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Vyas v. Vyas

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 1, 2017

DR. SUJATA VYAS, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
BHASKAR VYAS, an individual; NANCY BUNN, an individual; LOCKHEED MARTIN PENSION PLAN AND CHAMBERS QDRO CONSULTING SERVICES, LLC; CHARLES SCHWAB AND SCHWAB RETIREMENT PLAN SERVICES COMPANY AS PLAN ADMINISTRATOR; COMMITTEE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP SCPMG PLAN ADMINISTRATOR; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER RE: DEFENDANT BHASKAR VYAS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [109]

          HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior U.S. District Judge

         Currently before the Court is Defendant Bhaskar Vyas' (“Defendant Vyas”) Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”) [109]. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court GRANTS Defendant Vyas' Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a California resident who married Defendant Vyas in 1981. Second Am. Compl. (“SAC”) ¶ 21, ECF No. 63. During the couple's marriage, from October 1985 to February 1992, Defendant Vyas worked for LTV Aerospace & Defense Corporation. Decl. of Bhaskar Vyas (“Bhaskar Decl.”) ¶ 10, ECF No. 109-2. Defendant Vyas, at some point during this time period, was enrolled in the Lockheed Martin Pension Plan (“Lockheed Plan”) at issue in this Action, although he claims to not have known about the Lockheed Plan or his enrollment in it. See id.

         The couple separated in 2003, and in 2009, they obtained a Judgment of Dissolution from the Orange County Superior Court finalizing their divorce. First Am. Compl. (“FAC”), Ex. A, ECF No. 19. Following the Orange County Superior Court entering the Judgment of Dissolution in 2009, court-appointed attorney Defendant Nancy Bunn began drafting Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (“QDROs”) regarding the retirement plans to which the couple contributed during the marriage. SAC ¶ 7. It was during this time that Plaintiff moved back into the couple's home and discovered the existence of the Lockheed Plan and the alleged undisclosed Rollover IRAs. Id. ¶ 22. Defendant Vyas claims Plaintiff became aware of the Lockheed Plan when Plaintiff opened a letter concerning the Lockheed Plan dated August 18, 2014, which Defendant Lockheed Martin Corporation (“LMC”) sent to the couple's home. Bhaskar Decl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Vyas concealed the Lockheed Plan and Rollover IRAs to which he contributed during the marriage. SAC ¶ 14.

         Defendant Vyas maintains that he was not aware of the existence of the Lockheed Plan until July 2015. Bhaskar Decl. ¶ 9. At no point have Plaintiff or Defendant Vyas presented the Lockheed Plan or the alleged undisclosed Rollover IRAs to any state court. SAC ¶ 22.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Vyas gained discretionary control of the Lockheed Plan in August 2014 when he became eligible to take a lump sum distribution or an annuity. Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff contends that this qualifies Defendant Vyas as a fiduciary with respect to the Lockheed Plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Id. ¶ 41. In addition, Plaintiff argues that Defendant Vyas is a fiduciary of any and all undisclosed Rollover IRAs. Id. ¶ 44.

         Ultimately, on December 21, 2015, the Orange County Family Court finalized the QDROs, which did not mention the Lockheed Plan or Rollover IRAs. Id. ¶ 14. The Lockheed Plan does not appear on any QDRO because, as Plaintiff alleges, Defendant Vyas concealed the Lockheed Plan from Plaintiff throughout all court-mandated disclosures and proceedings. Id. ¶ 15.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint on December 28, 2015 against her ex-husband, Defendant Vyas, the drafter of the QDROs, Defendant Nancy Bunn, and the administrators of a number of the couple's retirement accounts [1].[1]The Complaint alleged four causes of action against Defendant Vyas, two claims under ERISA for breach of fiduciary duty, a claim seeking an accounting of assets, and a claim for breach of securities laws.

         Following Defendant Vyas' filing of his Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [10], Plaintiff filed her FAC on April 5, 2016 [19].[2] The FAC included the same four causes of action against Defendant Vyas. See FAC at 68:4-72:16. Defendant Vyas then filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC on April 19, 2016 [27]. On July 28, 2016, the Court issued an Order granting in part and denying in part Defendant Vyas' Motion to Dismiss [36]. While the Court dismissed Plaintiff's securities fraud claim against Defendant Vyas, the Court declined to dismiss Plaintiff's ERISA claims against Defendant Vyas because the determination of whether Plaintiff was a “beneficiary” of any ERISA account was a merit-based determination not appropriately adjudicated in a Motion to Dismiss. See Order re Def. Vyas' Mot. to Dismiss FAC at 10:10-18, ECF No. 36. Defendant Vyas filed his Answer to the FAC on August 11, 2016 [39]. Defendant Chambers QDRO Consulting Services, LLC (“Defendant Chambers”) filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's FAC on August 22, 2016 [42].

         Following the Court's grant of Defendant Chambers' Motion to Dismiss with leave to amend [62], Plaintiff filed her SAC on November 24, 2016 [63].[3] The SAC included the securities claim against Defendant Vyas that the Court had dismissed in its July 28, 2016 Order. SAC at 83:14-21. On January 27, 2017, Defendant Vyas filed a Motion to Strike the securities claim that the Court had previously dismissed [73]. The Court granted Defendant Vyas' Motion to Strike on May 8, 2017 [96].[4] Defendant Vyas then filed his Answer to the SAC on May 22, 2017 [100].

         On June 30, 2017, Defendant Vyas filed the instant Motion as to All Claims Alleged Against Defendant Vyas in the SAC [109]. Plaintiff filed her Opposition to the Motion on July 18, 2017 [113]. Defendant Vyas filed his Reply on July 25, 2017 [115].

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. Plaintiff and Defendant Vyas were married on December 10, 1981. Def.'s Stmt of Undisputed Facts (“Defendant Vyas' SUF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 109-1; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 1, ECF No. 113-2.

         2. The Orange County Superior Court issued a Judgment of Dissolution on December 10, 2009 addressing the rights and obligations of the parties in relation to one another. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 3; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 3; Def.'s Req. for Judicial Notice (“RJN”), Ex. 1, ECF No. 110-1.

         3. The Judgment of Dissolution specifically addresses and adjudicates the rights of the parties in and to six retirement accounts/plans. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 4; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 4; RJN, Ex. 1 at 6:18-7:3.

         4. The Judgment of Dissolution does not mention the Lockheed Plan. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 5; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 5; RJN, Ex. 1.

         5. The Judgment of Dissolution does not mention any Rollover IRAs. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 6; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 6; RJN, Ex. 1.

         6. The Orange County Family Court has issued five QDROs addressing the retirement accounts/plans of the parties addressed in the Judgment of Dissolution. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 7; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 7; RJN, Exs. 4-8.

         7. None of the five QDRO Orders the Orange County Family Court issued mention the Lockheed Plan. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 8; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 8; RJN, Exs. 4-8.

         8. None of the five QDRO Orders the Orange County Family Court issued mention any Rollover IRAs. Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 9; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 9; RJN, Exs. 4-8.

         9. The Judgment of Dissolution states that the Orange County Family Court retains jurisdiction over “after-discovered property.” Defendant Vyas' SUF ¶ 14; Pl.'s Response to Def. Vyas' SUF ¶ 14; RJN, Ex. 1.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 56 states that a “court shall grant summary judgment” when the movant “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” for purposes of summary judgment if it might affect the outcome of the suit, and a “genuine issue” exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The evidence, and any inferences based on underlying facts, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA, Inc., 715 F.2d 1327, 1329 (9th Cir. 1983). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but only to determine if a genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         Under Rule 56, the party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden to show “no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to produce admissible evidence showing a triable issue of fact. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins., 210 F.3d at 1102-03; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Summary judgment “is appropriate when the plaintiff fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [her] case, and on which [she] will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795, 805-06 (1999); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The standard for a motion for summary judgment “provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issues of material fact.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

         B. ...


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