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MIDDLETON v. PHILADELPHIA ELEC. CO.

May 9, 1994

LAWRENCE MIDDLETON, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOWELL A. REED, JR.

 Reed, J.

 Defendant Philadelphia Electric Company ("PECO") removed this action to this Court from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County asserting that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action because it is "an action to recover employee benefits or to secure other relief under the terms of an employee benefit plan covered by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. ยง 1001, et seq.." Notice of Removal at 2. Given that the notice of removal did not clearly support the asserted basis for subject matter jurisdiction, I issued an Order to Show Cause instructing PECO to file a "memorandum of law and such other documents, as necessary, to [show cause] why the within action should not be remanded to the state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." See Order dated November 10, 1993 (Document No. 2).

 After reviewing PECO's memorandum of law, plaintiff's response, and PECO's reply, and for the reasons discussed below, I conclude that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this action because I conclude that ERISA does not apply to plaintiff's claims and thus that plaintiff's claims are governed exclusively by state law.

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Lawrence Middleton ("Middleton") was an employee at PECO in the Nuclear Group from 1981 until he was terminated in August 1993. In 1993, PECO began a reorganization of the Nuclear Group which included a reduction in force. To those protected employees whose positions would be eliminated, PECO offered a severance pay plan called the Nuclear Voluntary Separation Plan (the "Plan" or "PECO's Plan"). *fn1" See Plan, attached to Complaint as Exhibit A(3).

 In April 1993, Middleton received a letter from PECO Vice-President Gerald Rainey ("Rainey") which informed him that as a result of the reorganization, his position as Analyst III in the Nuclear Group Programs Branch was being eliminated. See Letter of Gerald R. Rainey to Lawrence Middleton, April 15, 1993, attached to Complaint as Exhibit A(1). As a protected employee, however, Middleton was told that he was eligible to receive severance benefits under the Plan because he had been with PECO for more than ten (10) years and because he was in the Professional, Supervisory, and Managerial Plan (the "PSM"). See Rainey's Letter; see also Plan at 3. Rainey explained that Middleton, and those similarly situated, had two options: They could chose to take advantage of the Plan and receive severance benefits, or they could stay with PECO in a different position. Attached to Rainey's letter was a copy of the Plan and an election form on which Middleton would be required to note his choice.

 Specifically, the Plan provided the following severance pay and benefits to Middleton and other protected employees:

 
* Lump sum payment equal to three (3) weeks pay for each year of service to a maximum of 18 months.
 
* Benefits coverage for a maximum of 18 months or employment in a position that provides benefits in another company, whichever occurs first.
 
* Benefits that will be continued are Medical, Dental, Life, and AD&D.

 Plan at 1. Those employees who would be eligible to receive the above-mentioned benefits under the Plan were those who:

 
will have completed 10 or more years credited service and who are in the [PSM] as of (individual's date will be indicated in their personal letter) and who are not assigned as ...

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