The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER
This declaratory judgment action is now before the Court upon motion of the remaining defendant,
Unum Life Insurance Company of America for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the motion shall be granted.
In March, 1989, Plaintiff Edward Block was hired by Doubletree's predecessor in interest, the Beacon Hotel Corporation, as the Assistant Food and Beverage Director for the Holiday Inn in Trevose, Pennsylvania. On August 24, 1991, plaintiff suffered a work-related injury which, he contends, rendered him totally disabled. (Pl's Complaint, Ps7-9). Unbeknownst to plaintiff, Beacon had a long-term disability insurance policy through Unum Life Insurance Company as a benefit for its employees. (Pl's Complaint, P10-11).
Plaintiff alleges that he first learned of the existence of the Unum disability policy in January, 1996 and that upon learning that the disability policy had been in force while he was working at the Holiday Inn, he promptly applied for benefits thereunder on January 25, 1996. Unum, in turn, denied plaintiff's benefits application on April 25, 1996 because it was not filed within ninety days of the three-month elimination period.
Although plaintiff sought review of the company's denial, the decision to deny was upheld via letter of July 18, 1996. (Pl's Complaint, Ps 12-13).
Plaintiff thereafter brought this action by filing a pro se complaint in Bucks County's Magisterial District Court 07-1-07
on July 24, 1996. The case was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1) on August 19, 1996. By the complaint which he filed in this Court, plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment in his favor and against Unum that he is entitled to benefits under the long term disability policy which it issued to Beacon/Doubletree and that, by denying him benefits, Unum breached the contract which it had with plaintiff and/or breached the duties which it owed him as a third party beneficiary under the policy. (Pl's Complaint, Ps 14-17). Unum moves for summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff's claims are time-barred due to his failure to submit a proof of claim within the time period set by the policy and his failure to file this lawsuit within the time allotted under the suit limitation clause in the policy.
Standards Governing Summary Judgment Motions
The standards for determining whether summary judgment is properly entered in cases pending before the district courts are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Subsection (c) of that rule states, in pertinent part,
... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.
In this way, a motion for summary judgment requires the court to look beyond the bare allegations of the pleadings to determine if they have sufficient factual support to warrant their consideration at trial. Liberty Lobby, Inc. v. Dow Jones & Co., 267 U.S. App. D.C. 337, 838 F.2d 1287 (D.C. Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 825, 109 S. Ct. 75, 102 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1988). See Also : Aries Realty, Inc. v. AGS Columbia Associates, 751 F. Supp. 444 (S.D. N.Y. 1990).
As a general rule, the party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). In considering a summary judgment motion, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. U.S. v. Kensington Hospital, 760 F. Supp. 1120 (E.D. Pa. 1991); Schillachi v. Flying Dutchman Motorcycle Club, 751 F. Supp. 1169 (E.D. Pa. 1990).
When, however, "a motion for summary judgment is made and supported [by affidavits or otherwise], an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response...must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so ...