United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO TRANSFER
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action for intentional infliction of emotional distress
arising out of the administration of a disability plan
governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of
1974, defendants move to dismiss on preemption grounds.
Defendants alternatively move to dismiss for improper venue
or to transfer the action to the District of Arizona. For the
reasons stated below, defendants’ motion to transfer is
Granted. The motion to dismiss will be for the District of
Arizona to decide.
plaintiff Ed Daie, a former employee of defendant Intel
Corporation and a resident of Arizona, brings claims for
intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of
the administration of the Intel Corporation Long Term
Disability Plan (the “Plan”). Daie worked for
Intel for twenty-seven years and worked the final seven years
of his career working at home in Arizona as a server memory
technology director. Daie applied for long-term benefits from
the Plan after taking an unpaid leave of absence from his
relevant times, Intel self-funded the Plan pursuant to the
Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Intel
delegated all claims administration and discretionary
authority to The Reed Group, Ltd., and Claim Appeals
Fiduciary Services, Inc. (so all agree there is no conflict
of interest in the administration of Daie’s claims).
was and remains a Colorado corporation with its headquarters
in Colorado. CAFS was and remains a Colorado corporation with
its headquarters in Georgia. Neither Reed nor CAFS performed
any claims administration in California. Their only contacts
with California arguably relating to this action were their
respective contractual relationships with the Plan, which had
been formed in California, and their communications with
Daie’s counsel (Onada Decl. ¶¶ 3-4; Zimon
Decl. ¶¶ 2-4).
complaint alleges that throughout the process of determining
Daie’s claim for long-term disability benefits under
the Plan, Reed and CAFS, as claims administrators for the
Plan, engaged in outrageous intentional conduct with the aim
of forcing Daie to drop his claim for benefits. The alleged
conduct included inter alia, accusing Daie of lying
about his disability, intentionally misstating his
physicians’ statements, and pressuring him to undergo
medical examinations without considering their results. In
this action, Daie asserts a claim for intentional infliction
of emotional distress (Compl. ¶¶ 30-31, 32-38).
* * *
procedural history of Daie’s disputes relating to the
Plan and the administration thereof is bizarre.
2015, Daie filed an action for intentional infliction of
emotional distress in San Francisco Superior Court against
our defendants as well as Aetna Life Insurance Company, which
is not a party to this action. The defendants removed the
action to federal court here in San Francisco, where it was
assigned to the undersigned judge (Case No. 15-3813).
contended that removal was proper because Daie’s claims
were completely preempted by ERISA. Daie moved to remand the
action, and defendants moved to dismiss the action for
improper venue. Defendants also moved to transfer the action
to the District of Arizona. In November 2015, an order held
that ERISA did not completely preempt Daie’s claims, so
defendants’ removal was improper. That order remanded
Daie’s IIED action to state court.
week later, Daie filed an action in federal court in San
Francisco for the recovery of benefits under ERISA, naming
Intel, Reed, CAFS, and the Plan as defendants (Case No.
15-5255). The new action was related to Daie’s first
IIED action and reassigned to the undersigned. Defendants
again moved to transfer to the District of Arizona. On
February 18, 2016, an order denied the motion to transfer,
inasmuch as the case would be decided based on the
administrative record, so a transfer would have wasted
February 22, 2016, the San Francisco Superior Court dismissed
Daie’s IIED action for forum non conveniens,
holding that “the balance of private and public
interests tipp[ed] decidedly in favor of [Arizona]”
(Dkt. No. 14-1). Notwithstanding the state court decision
holding that his IIED claim belonged in Arizona, Daie
commenced the instant action here in federal court in San
Francisco in April 2016, asserting ...