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Nelson v. Standard Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 26, 2014

MARIANA NELSON, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
STANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY, an Oregon company; COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORPORATION GROUP LONG TERM DISABILITY PLAN; COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORP., and DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on Count V of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings"), filed by Defendant Countrywide Financial Corporation Group Long Term Disability Plan. (ECF No. 56).

I. Background

On January 23, 2013, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint in this Court. (ECF No. 1). On July 17, 2013, the Court granted a motion to dismiss the Complaint filed by Defendants. (ECF No. 23). On October 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint, which is the operative pleading. (ECF No. 31).

A. Allegations of the First Amended Complaint

Beginning in January 2004, Plaintiff was employed as a loan officer with Defendant Countrywide Financial Corp. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4. Plaintiff received long term disability coverage under the Countrywide Financial Corporation Group Long Term Disability Plan, policy number 643382 ("Group Policy"), issued by Defendant Standard Insurance Company ("Standard"). Id. ¶¶ 1, 5. The Group Policy provides that "[p]ayment of [long term disability (LTD')] Benefits is limited to 24 months during your entire lifetime for a Disability caused or contributed to by... Mental Disorders." Id. ¶ 10.

In April 2007, Plaintiff ceased working due to disability. Id. ¶ 11. On May 30, 2008, Plaintiff submitted a claim seeking long term disability benefits going back to April 2007. Id. On July 10, 2008, Standard accepted the claim and paid Plaintiff disability benefits. Id. ¶ 12.

In January 2010, Standard informed Plaintiff that "LTD benefits have been terminated as of December 31, 2009 because [Plaintiff] no longer satisfies the Definition of Disability as stated in the Group Coverage." Id. ¶ 13. On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff requested that Standard review the termination of benefits. Id. ¶ 15. On October 10, 2011, Standard issued its final decision, denying Plaintiff's long term disability claim after its administrative review unit evaluated the December 31, 2009 decision to close the claim. Id. ¶ 34.

In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the following causes of action: (1) Class Action Claim for Benefits pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B); (2) Class Action Claim for Equitable Relief pursuant to ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3); (3) Class Action Breach of Fiduciary Duty pursuant to ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1104(a)(1); (4) Class Action Declaratory Relief; and (5) Individual Claim for Benefits pursuant to ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B).

B. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

On February 21, 2014, the Court issued an order granting Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts 1-4 of the First Amended Complaint and denying the motion to dismiss Count 5 of the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 39).

On March 28, 2014, Defendant Countrywide Financial Corporation Group Long Term Disability Plan ("Defendant") filed an Answer to Count 5 of the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 43). Neither the Answer nor Defendant's two previous motions to dismiss referenced a defense that Plaintiff's Complaint or First Amended Complaint was untimely or barred by the limitations provision in the Group Policy.

On June 16, 2014, Defendant filed the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 56). On July 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (ECF No. 59). On July 14, ...


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