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Orr v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.

September 28, 2006

BRENDA ORR, PLAINTIFF
v.
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. A/K/A METLIFE, INC. A/K/A METLIFE DISABILITY A/K/A METLIFE GROUP, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Brenda Orr, filed suit against Defendant, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife), the insurer of an Employee Benefit Plan at her former employer, Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Orr seeks relief pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), specifically 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) and § 1132(a)(3), to recover benefits and obtain equitable relief.

We are considering motions from both parties. MetLife's two motions include a Motion to Dismiss Count II of Orr's Amended Complaint and a Motion for a Protective Order. (docs. 37, 45) Orr has moved to preclude MetLife from supplementing the administrative record or, in the alternative, for an order permitting discovery. (doc. 40) For the reasons set forth below, we will grant MetLife's Motion to Dismiss Count II of the Amended Complaint, deny MetLife's Motion for Protective Order, and deny Orr's Motion to Permit Discovery.

II. Background

Orr was an employee of EDS and through her employment participated in an Employee Benefit Plan (Plan) issued to EDS by MetLife. The Plan provided short- and long-term disability benefits to qualified employees.

In June 2000, Orr allegedly suffered serious injuries while on vacation and could not return to work. Orr received short-term disability benefits under the Plan until December 11, 2000. Orr then received long-term disability benefits from December 12, 2000, until February 9, 2002. Orr alleges that MetLife terminated her benefits and employment with EDS in February 2002 after she failed to return to work in order to keep a doctor's appointment. MetLife claims that it terminated Orr's benefits because she was no longer disabled under the terms of the Plan.

Orr's original complaint seeking recovery for breach of contract and violations of various Pennsylvania statutes as well as punitive damages was removed to this Court and dismissed on February 17, 2005, pursuant to a stipulation between the parties. (doc. 24) The stipulation allowed Orr to exhaust her appeal of MetLife's denial of long-term disability benefits. Under the stipulation, Orr could move to reinstate her action and file an amended complaint depending on the outcome of her appeal. MetLife subsequently affirmed its denial of benefits and Orr filed an amended complaint to recover benefits and other equitable relief under ERISA. (doc. 31)

III. Discussion

A. MetLife's Motion to Dismiss Count II of the Amended Complaint

After exhausting her administrative remedies, Orr filed an amended complaint containing two counts for relief. Count I seeks benefits due under the Plan pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(1)(B).*fn1 Count II seeks equitable relief for breach of fiduciary duty pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(3).*fn2 MetLife has moved to dismiss Count II as violating the terms of the February 17, 2005, stipulation and failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.*fn3 We will grant MetLife's motion and dismiss Count II of Orr's amended complaint.

In considering a motion to dismiss, we must dismiss a claim that fails to assert a basis upon which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). We will accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and construe any inferences to be drawn from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor. See United States v. Occidental Chem. Corp., 200 F.3d 143, 147 (3d Cir. 1999).

MetLife presents two arguments in support of its motion. First, that by including Count II, Orr has "unilaterally and improperly expanded the terms of the stipulation." (doc. 38, p. 6) Second, MetLife contends that a claim for equitable relief pursuant to § 1132 (a)(3) is precluded when a plaintiff also seeks relief for wrongful termination of benefits under § 1132(a)(1)(B). (doc. 38, p. 9)

In response, Orr argues that the stipulation does not limit her right to assert claims "based on facts arising after the stipulation." (doc. 39, p. 4). According to Orr, Count II is based on MetLife's failure to provide a "full and fair review" of Orr's claim after the parties stipulated to dismiss the complaint pending resolution of Orr's appeal. Id. Additionally, Orr argues that a party may simultaneously present a claim for equitable relief and wrongful denial of benefits. Id. at 9. Finally, Orr contends that it would be inappropriate to ...


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