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Hall v. Glenn O. Hawbaker

February 7, 2007

NICHOLE S. HALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLENN O. HAWBAKER, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS

Pending before this Court is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction ("the Motion"), filed by Plaintiff Nichole S. Hall ("Plaintiff" or "Hall") on June 23, 2006. (Rec. Doc. 6). For the reasons that follow, we will deny the Motion.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As the parties and this Court are well-acquainted with the procedural history and factual background of the instant action, we will not belabor it here. However, we will set forth the salient facts as we have found them following the November 13, 2006 and December 11, 2006 proceedings that were held on the pending Motion. (See Rec. Docs. 67, 71, 72, 75).

On June 21, 2005, Defendant Capital Administrative Services, Inc. t/d/b/a NCAS ("NCAS") sent Hall a COBRA Qualifying Event Notification ("June 21 Notice"), which indicated that there had been a qualifying event that terminated her coverage through the Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. Employee Benefit Plan effective June 15, 2005. (NCAS Exh. 1 at 1). The June 21 Notice went on to state that Hall could "elect to continue coverage for [her]self . . . " and that if she did so, the monthly premium for individual medical and dental coverage would total $350.22. (NCAS Exh. 1 at 1). It indicated that such monthly payments were due "on or before the first day of the coverage period to which it applies," but that a "grace period of 30 days after the first day of the coverage period" would render payments made therein timely. (NCAS Exh. 1 at 5). The June 21 Notice also noted in at least three places that if Hall failed to make full payment before the conclusion of the grace period, her continuing coverage would be terminated. (NCAS Exh. 1 at 2, 5).

In late July of 2005, Hall returned her Continued Group Health Coverage Application ("COBRA application"), electing individual medical and dental coverage, and her fiancé, Paul Morris ("Morris"), remitted a premium payment of $350.22. (NCAS Exhs. 2, 7). The COBRA application, which Hall signed, contains an authorization that states in relevant part: "I understand that a beneficiary's continuation coverage ceases on the date he or she . . . fails to pay premium charges when due." (NCAS Exh. 2).

As a result, on July 30, 2005, NCAS sent, and at some point thereafter Hall received, a notice ("July 30 Notice") confirming that Hall's COBRA application had been received. (NCAS Exh. 3). It explained that "[y]our payments will be due the 15th of the previous month for the upcoming month. For example, your February premium will be due January 15." (NCAS Exh. 3; Rec. Doc. 75 at 42-44). The July 30 Notice also stated that Hall should receive a coupon booklet in 2-3 weeks and asked Hall to "pay close attention to the premium periods and due dates on the coupons." (NCAS Ex. 3).

On August 16, 2005, NCAS sent Hall, and at some point thereafter Hall received, an arrears notice ("August 16 Arrears Notice") indicating that she owed a premium of $537.01. (NCAS Exh. 4, Rec. Doc. 75 at 48). Although the August

16 Arrears Notice did not specify the reason such an amount was due or the dates for which such a premium was owed, testimony revealed that such a premium represented one and one-half month's coverage, and resulted from Hall's COBRA coverage beginning in the middle of June of 2005. (Rec. Doc. 71 at 108-09).

Sometime toward the end of August of 2005, Hall received the coupon booklet to which the July 30 Notice referred. (Rec. Doc. 75 at 13).

On or about August 30, 2005, Morris sent NCAS a check for $537.01.

(NCAS Exh. 7). However, Morris testified that as a result of the August 16 Arrears Notice, on August 31, 2005, he also had a conversation with a woman at NCAS, who told him that if he paid $537.01, Hall's COBRA account would be "current."*fn1

(Rec. Doc. 71 at 131, 150). Nevertheless, Morris acknowledged that the person he allegedly spoke with on August 31, 2005 did not tell him that Hall would not owe a premium ...


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