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Freeman v. American Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 20, 2014

JAMES FREEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. LONG TERM DISABILITY PLAN, and DOES 1 to 10, inclusive Defendants.

ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [14]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Defendant American Airlines Inc. Long Term Disability Plan's ("Defendant" or the "Plan") Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint [14]. The Court, having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: The Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff James Freeman ("Plaintiff") was employed by American Airlines, Inc. since 1977. First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶ 3. American Airlines, Inc. is the Sponsor and Administrator for Defendant American Airlines, Inc. Long Term Disability Plan ("Defendant" or "the Plan"). Id . at ¶ 4. The Plan provides salary replacement during extended absences due to disability. Jameson Decl., Ex. A at 161. In August 2005, Plaintiff became disabled due to diabetes mellitus and diabetes gastroparesis. FAC ¶ 8. Thereafter, Plaintiff applied and was approved for disability benefits under the Plan. Id.

On August 19, 2008, Plaintiff was informed by Defendant that it was terminating Plaintiff's long term disability benefits because it had determined that his medical condition no longer constituted a "total disability" under the Plan. Id . at ¶ 10. Plaintiff appealed Defendant's decision of denial. Id . at ¶ 11. However, by letter dated August 17, 2009, Defendant denied the appeal. Id.

Plaintiff requests, inter alia, that this Court declare that Plaintiff is entitled to continued disability benefits and an award of disability benefits from August 19, 2008 to the present. Id . at ¶ 16.

Plaintiff filed this Action against Defendant and American Airlines, Inc. on July 17, 2013 [1]. On November 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint and terminated American Airlines, Inc. from this Action [6]. Defendant filed the present Motion to Dismiss on January 6, 2014 [14]. Defendant also requests for attorneys' fees incurred in relation to this Motion [14]. This matter was taken under submission on January 30, 2014 [22].

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for dismissal of one or more claims if the pleading fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal can be based on a lack of cognizable legal theory or lack of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). However, a party is not required to state the legal basis for its claim, only the facts underlying it. McCalden v. Cal. Library Ass'n , 955 F.2d 1214, 1223 (9th Cir. 1990). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must presume all factual allegations of the complaint to be true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Klarfeld v. United States , 944 F.2d 583, 585 (9th Cir. 1991).

The question presented by a motion to dismiss is not whether the plaintiff will prevail in the action, but whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of its claim. Swierkiewica v. Sorema N.A. , 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citation omitted). Although specific facts are not necessary if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which the claim rests, a complaint must nevertheless "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

If dismissed, a court must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleadings was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts. Lopez v. Smith , 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Request to Consider the ...


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