COHILL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Presently before us is defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Renewed Motion to Strike Jury Demand. For the reasons stated below, we will grant the Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and will deny the Renewed Motion to Strike Jury Demand.
We note that the parties have filed numerous amendments to their original pleadings; as of the date of this Memorandum Order, the controlling pleadings are Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, filed May 16, 1988, and Defendant's Answer, filed August 29, 1988.
The plaintiffs, Marilyn and Thomas Kriebel, reside in Finleyville, Pennsylvania. The defendant Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company is a Connecticut corporation, licensed to transact insurance business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges that on September 22, 1981, Mrs. Kriebel was injured while riding on a trolley. As a result of the accident, Mrs. Kriebel was disabled and has remained disabled. In September, 1981, Mrs. Kriebel was employed by Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania. She maintained a Long Term Disability Plan (the "Plan") with defendant through Blue Cross.
The ultimate issue to be resolved in this action is the liability of the defendant to the plaintiffs under that policy.
Counts 1 and 2 of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint seek damages and other relief on the basis of Pennsylvania contract law (pled as an assumpsit form of action). The plaintiffs contend that defendant made disability payments to Mrs. Kriebel from March 29, 1982, to February 28, 1985 and after that date wrongfully withheld benefit payments that are due under the policy. In Count 2, Mr. Kriebel makes a claim (in assumpsit), for reimbursement of expenses he incurred as a result of Mrs. Kriebel's disability.
Count 3 is a claim for relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. Plaintiffs allege that defendant was the plan administrator for the Plan. They contend that defendant's decision to terminate Mrs. Kriebel's benefits was not supported by substantial evidence and was arbitrary and capricious.
Pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, any party may move for a judgment on the pleadings. A Rule 12(c) motion provides a means to dispose of cases, or issues therein, when material facts are not in dispute and a question of law can be resolved by focusing solely on the contents of the pleadings. C. Wright & A. Miller, 5 Federal Practice & Procedure § 1367, at 685.
In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court must view the facts presented and the inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. All of the factual allegations in the nonmovant's pleadings are assumed to be true, and all contravening assertions in the movant's pleadings are taken to be false. Id. at 690-91; Chuy v. National Football League Player's Ass'n, 495 F. Supp. 137, 138 (E.D. Pa. 1980).
Under Rule 12(h)(2) of the F.R.C.P., a defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted may be raised in a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
In its Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, defendant argues that the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with respect to Counts 1 and 2 of plaintiffs' Amended Complaint on the grounds that these Pennsylvania contract law counts are pre-empted by ERISA.
The parties agree that ERISA principles govern administration of the Plan; the Plan is an "employee benefit plan" as defined in section 3(3) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). The parties disagree, however, as to whether ERISA pre-empts plaintiffs' contract claims.
Section 514(a) of ERISA governs the application of ERISA with respect to other laws. That section, the "pre-emption clause", provides;
Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the provisions of this subchapter and subchapter III of this chapter shall supersede any and all State laws insofar as they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan described in section 1003(a) of this title and not exempt under section 1003(b) of this title.
29 U.S.C. § 1144(a) (emphasis supplied).
"State law" includes "all laws, decisions, rules, regulations, or other State action having the effect of law, of any State." 29 U.S.C. § 1144(c)(1).
Section 514(b)(2)(A) provides one of numerous exceptions to the pre-emption clause; this exception is the only one that appears potentially applicable to this case. This "savings clause" section provides that except as provided in section 514(b)(2)(B), "nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to exempt or relieve any person from any law of any State which regulates insurance, banking, or securities." 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(A).
Section 514(b)(2)(B) restricts the effect of the savings clause by prohibiting state law otherwise saved under Section 514(b)(2)(A) from "deeming" an employee benefit plan an entity subject to the savings clause. This "deeming clause" provides:
An employee benefit plan described in section 1003(a) of this title. . . shall be deemed to be an insurance company or other insurer, bank, trust company, or investment company or to be engaged in the business of insurance or banking for purposes of any law of any State purporting to regulate insurance companies, insurance contracts, banks, trust companies, or investment companies.