The opinion of the court was delivered by: BERLE M. SCHILLER, District Judge
Plaintiff Loretta Rieser brings this action alleging violations of
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"),
29 U.S.C. § 1001-1461, and the Pennsylvania bad faith statute, 42 PA. CONS.
STAT. ANN. § 8371, against Defendants Standard Life Insurance Company
("Standard Life"), Canada Life Assurance Company ("Canada Life"), and
Gross-Given Manufacturing Company ("Gross-Given"), and alleging fraud
against Defendant Gross-Given. Presently before this Court are Defendant
Standard Life's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's bad faith claim, Defendant
Canada Life's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's bad faith and ERISA claims,
and Defendant Gross-Given's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's bad faith,
fraud and ERISA claims. Additionally before this Court is Defendants
Standard Life and Canada Life's motions to strike Plaintiff's demand for
a jury trial. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Defendants
Standard Life and Canada Life's motions to dismiss and grants in part and
denies in part Defendant Gross-Given's motion to dismiss. Furthermore,
the Court grants Defendant Standard Life and Canada Life's motions to
strike Plaintiff's demand for a jury trial. I. BACKGROUND
Plaintiff is the widow of David R. Rieser, an employee of Gross-Given
at its Warminster, Pennsylvania facility from February 19, 1952 until
January 28, 1998. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) On January 28, 1998, Mr. Rieser
ceased active employment at Gross-Given because he became disabled due to
emphysema. (Id.) Gross-Given provided an employee benefit
welfare plan including health, life, and disability insurance coverage
through Standard Life for its employees. (Id. ¶ 14.) In
November 1997, prior to going on disability, Mr. Rieser received a
memorandum from David Riccio, a Gross-Given employee, concerning his
disability and benefits under the employee benefit plan. (Id.
¶ 17.) The memorandum explained that when Mr. Rieser ceased active
employment due to his disability, Gross-Given would continue to pay the
premiums for his health and life insurance and that coverage would remain
the same as long as he remained disabled. (Id. ¶ 18.)
Furthermore, the memorandum explained that Mr. Rieser would also receive
disability benefits as long as he remained disabled, but that such
benefits would be reduced after he reached the age of sixty-five and
would cease entirely when Mr. Rieser chose to access his retirement
benefits. (Id. ¶¶ 17-19.) Accordingly, the Riesers refrained
from accessing Mr. Rieser's retirement benefits in order to maintain his
disability payments. (Id. ¶ 20.) At the time he received
this memorandum and when he ceased active employment at Gross-Given, Mr.
Rieser was sixty-one years old. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 17.)
In October 1998, approximately nine months after Mr. Rieser ceased
active employment, a disability benefits analyst from Standard Life sent
a letter to Mr. Rieser informing him that because he was over the age of
sixty when he became disabled, he was not eligible to have his life
insurance coverage continue without the payment of premiums.
(Id. ¶ 23.) The letter asked Mr. Rieser to contact
Gross-Given regarding his "membership status and premium payments" and
stated that his life insurance would remain in force until the termination of his
status as a "member" or the cessation of premium payments, whichever
occurred first. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff alleges that neither
Gross-Given nor any other entity ever informed Mr. Rieser that he was no
longer a member of the plan, that he was excluded from coverage, or that
the plan had been amended in any way. (Id. ¶¶ 26-28.)
On November 1, 2000, Gross-Given replaced the Standard Life policy with
a group life insurance policy obtained from Canada Life, effective
November 1, 2000. (Def. Canada Life's Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A (Policy) at
6.) Mr. Rieser died on November 13, 2002 at the age of sixty-six. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 11.) After Mr. Rieser's death, Ms. Rieser submitted claims
to Standard Life and Canada Life for $55, 000.00 in life insurance
benefits, but both claims were denied. (Id. ¶ 30-31.)
Plaintiff thereafter exhausted her administrative remedies by appealing
these denials of coverage. (Id. ¶ 32.)
In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, courts must accept as true all of the
factual allegations pleaded in the complaint and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Bd. of Trs. of
Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen Local 6 of N.J. Welfare Fund v.
Wettlin Assocs., Inc., 237 F.3d 270, 272 (3d Cir. 2001). A motion to
dismiss will only be granted if it is clear that relief cannot be granted
to the plaintiff under any set of facts that could be proven consistent
with the complaint's allegations. Hishon v. King & Spalding,
467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46 (1957)). Although, in deciding a motion to dismiss, courts
generally consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits
attached to the complaint, and matters of public record, a court may also
consider an undisputably authentic document attached to a defendant's
motion where plaintiff's claims are based on the document. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol.
Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
A. Standard Life's Motion to Dismiss
Standard Life moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claim pursuant to the
Pennsylvania bad faith statute, 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 8371,
arguing that such claims are preempted by ERISA. Section 514 of ERISA
provides that the act "shall supercede any and all state laws insofar as
they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan."
29 U.S.C. § 1444(a) (2004). ERISA includes a savings provision, however, that
excepts from preemption "any law of any state which regulates insurance,
banking, or securities." 29 U.S.C. § 1444(b)(2)(A); see Ky.
Assoc. of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller, 538 U.S. 329, 342 (2003)
(holding that savings clause applies only to state laws that
"substantially affect the risk pooling arrangement between the insurer
and the insured"). A state statute that falls within the savings clause,
however, may nonetheless be preempted if it allows plan participants "to
obtain remedies under state law that Congress rejected in ERISA."
Rush Prudential HMO, Inc. v. Moran, 536 U.S. 355, 378 (2002)
(quoting Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 54
(1987)); see also Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41,
55 (1987) (finding that the civil enforcement provisions of ERISA §
502(a) are intended as exclusive remedies).
As numerous courts in this district have recently considered whether
§ 8371 is preempted by ERISA, this Court will not engage in a lengthy
exposition of its reasoning. Plaintiff's claims pursuant to
Pennsylvania's bad faith statute are preempted by ERISA because §
8371 does not "regulate insurance" for purposes of ERISA's savings
clause, and, even if § 8371 did fall within the savings clause, it would nonetheless be preempted because it provides plan
participants with a remedy that Congress rejected in ERISA. See,
e.g., Dolce v. Hercules Inc. Ins. Plan, No. Civ. A. 03-1747, 2003 WL
22992148, at *3-4, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23890, at * 12-13 (E.D. Pa. Dec.
15, 2003) (holding that § 8371 does not fall within savings clause
under Miller test and is nonetheless preempted because it
enlarges ERISA's remedies); Nguyen v. Healthguard of Lancaster,
Inc., 282 F. Supp.2d 296, 306 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (same); McGuigan
v. Reliance Std. Life Ins. Co., 256 F. Supp.2d 345, 348, 350 (E.D.
Pa. 2003) (same). Accordingly, Standard Life's motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's bad faith claim is granted.
B. Canada Life's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff asserts two claims against Canada Life: violation of ERISA
and a state law claim for bad faith. Canada Life moves to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims against it because, according to the allegations in
Plaintiff's complaint, Mr. Rieser was never covered by the Canada Life
group life insurance policy.*fn1
The clear and unambiguous terms of the Canada Life insurance policy
state that when the policy went into effect on November 1, 2000, it
applied only to those employees who were "actively at work" on the
effective date or who later became full time employees "actively at work"
after the effective date. (Def Canada Life's Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A. at 6,
8-9.) As defined in the Canada Life policy, "actively at work" means
that: a person is either 1) actually performing the
person's normal duties, if it is a scheduled work
day; or 2) capable of performing the person's
normal duties, if the person is not at work due to