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Luckenbaugh v. Ebenx

March 19, 2007

GEORGE E. LUCKENBAUGH, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EBENX, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS

Pending before this Court are three Motions seeking, inter alia, dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint in the above-captioned action. On October 3, 2006, Defendants United Healthcare Service Corporation ("United Healthcare") and Frito-Lay, Inc. ("Frito-Lay") filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, or, in the Alternative, to Stay the Proceedings. (Rec. Doc. 4). On October 4, 2006, Defendant eBenx, Inc. ("eBenx") filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. (Rec. Doc. 7). On same date, Defendant HealthAmerica Pennsylvania, Inc. ("HealthAmerica") filed a Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, to Strike the Jury Demand and Stay the Proceedings. (Rec. Doc. 9). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss the Complaint will be granted in the manner specified herein.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 29, 2006, Plaintiff George Luckenbaugh, who has brought this action on behalf of himself and his minor daughter, Plaintiff Tonya Luckenbaugh, instituted the instant action in the Court of Common Pleas of York County. (Rec. Doc. 1-2). On September 27, 2006, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Rec. Doc. 1-1).

Subsequently, on October 3, 2006, and October 4, 2006, each Defendant filed a Motion seeking, inter alia, dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint on the grounds that, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Specifically, United Healthcare and Frito-Lay filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, or, in the Alternative, to Stay the Proceedings (doc. 4); eBenx filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint (doc. 7); and HealthAmerica filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, or, in the Alternative, to Strike the Jury Demand and Stay the Proceedings (doc. 9).

As all three Motions have been briefed, they are ripe for disposition.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In light of the standard of review for motions to dismiss, we accept as true all of Plaintiffs' averments in the Complaint. Accordingly, the following factual background is taken therefrom.

On December 4, 1996, Plaintiff George Luckenbaugh ("Mr. Luckenbaugh")*fn1 began working for Defendant Frito-Lay. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 7). Thereafter, he became eligible for medical insurance coverage through Frito-Lay as a result of his employment. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 7).

On March 23, 2001, Mr. Luckenbaugh was thrown from a horse while riding and sustained physical injuries. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 8). As a result of his injuries, Mr. Luckenbaugh was first placed on light-duty work for Frito-Lay, from approximately March 23, 2001 until June 11, 2001. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 9). However, from June 11, 2001 until December 17, 2001, he was placed on short-term disability, and from December 17, 2001 until at least the filing of the Complaint, he has been on long-term disability. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 10-11).

Prior to and through December 17, 2001, Mr. Luckenbaugh was provided health insurance coverage through HealthAmerica as a result of his employment by Frito-Lay. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 12). Mr. Luckenbaugh's health insurance was in the form of an employer-sponsored HMO that paid all of his qualifying medical expenses. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 13).

However, beginning on or about December 17, 2001, Mr. Luckenbaugh had $14.75 deducted from his semi-monthly disability benefits to pay for basic medical coverage from United Healthcare. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 20).

On or about March 18, 2002, eBenx notified Mr. Luckenbaugh that he had the opportunity to make an election, under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 ("COBRA"), to continue his vision insurance coverage for himself and his minor daughter, Tonya ("Ms. Luckenbaugh"). (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 14). Accordingly, on March 22, 2002, Mr. Luckenbaugh mailed eBenx notice of his intention to continue his vision insurance coverage. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 15).

Thereafter, on or about March 29, 2002, HealthAmerica provided Mr. Luckenbaugh notice that his health insurance coverage had terminated on December 17, 2001, the date on which he was placed on long-term disability. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ¶ 16). Thus, by notice dated April 26, 2002,*fn2 eBenx provided Mr. Luckenbaugh the required COBRA notice that he could elect continuing health insurance, through HealthAmerica, prior to June 24, 2002. (Rec. Doc. 1-2, ΒΆ 17). Again, Mr. Luckenbaugh elected to continue his coverage: on or ...


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