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Groves v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 24, 2014

RAMONA GROVES, Plaintiff,
v.
KAISER FOUNDATION HEALTH PLAN INC., et al., Defendants

Page 1075

For Ramona Groves, Plaintiff: Jeffrey David Fulton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton, Sacramento, CA.

For Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc, AON, formerly known as Hewitt Associates, Kaiser Permanente Retirement Plan, Defendants: Charles M. Dyke, LEAD ATTORNEY, Trucker Huss, San Francisco, CA; Sean T. Strauss, Trucker Huss APC, San Francisco, CA.

Page 1076

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss and Dismissing First Amended Complaint without Prejudice

YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint of Plaintiff

Page 1077

Ramona Groves. As alleged therein: In November 2009, Plaintiff accepted an offer of early retirement from her employer, Defendant Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (" Kaiser" ). Plaintiff was then 55 years old and making $140,000 per year, plus benefits. Plaintiff opted for a lump-sum payout of her pension benefit. Before her official retirement date, Plaintiff repeatedly inquired into the amount of her payout. The Kaiser Permanente Salaried Retirement Plan (" Plan" ) repeatedly responded, orally and in writing, through statements delivered by Defendant Hewitt,[1] that Plaintiff was eligible for a lump sum payout of roughly $750,000, with the final amount calculated to be $766,889.54. The Plan paid that amount to Plaintiff in January 2010. Not surprisingly, Plaintiff comingled the funds with her personal accounts and paid taxes on the monies received.

Twenty-two months later, in November 2011, a representative of the Kaiser Permanente Retirement Center notified Plaintiff that she had been overpaid by more than $240,000 and that she was obligated to repay the overage, with interest. The overpayment resulted solely from Hewitt's apparent data entry error.

Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies and instituted this civil action. The FAC asserts three separate claims: as against Kaiser, (1) equitable estoppel, as provided under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (" ERISA" ) at 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3), and, as against Hewitt, (2) negligence and (3) negligent misrepresentation. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the FAC pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the grounds that federal law precludes Plaintiff's negligence claims and equitable principles provide no basis for relief.[2]

Having carefully considered the parties' papers and argument in light of the applicable law of the Ninth Circuit, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court Grants Defendants' motion and Dismisses Plaintiff's FAC. The dismissal is without prejudice to further amendment.

II. BACKGROUND

Given the procedural posture of this case, the Court accepts as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of Plaintiff's FAC and construes them in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. The ...


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