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Powell v. Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan

December 10, 2008

ARTHUR T. POWELL, II PLAINTIFF,
v.
GREATER MEDIA INC. LONG TERM DISABILITY PLAN AND GREATER MEDIA INC. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jan E. Dubois, J.

ORDER & MEMORANDUM

ORDER

AND NOW, this 10th day of December, 2008, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration and Memorandum of Law in Support thereof (Document No. 14, filed September 2, 2008); and Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Document No. 15, filed September 8, 2008), for the reasons set forth in the attached Memorandum, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court is plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. Because plaintiff has failed to establish any grounds for reconsideration, plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

The relevant facts and procedural history of this case are stated in detail in the Court's Order and Memorandum of August 13, 2008. Powell v. Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan and Greater Media, Inc., No. 07-726, 2008 WL 3874719 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 13, 2008)). Accordingly, this Memorandum sets forth only the factual and procedural background necessary to resolve the motion presently before the Court.

Plaintiff filed a Complaint on February 22, 2007 against Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan and Greater Media Inc. based on the alleged "refusal" of defendants to "honor a specifically negotiated provision in a severance agreement and release, in which Defendants agreed to treat [plaintiff] as a current employee under its [sic] Long Term Disability Plan notwithstanding the termination of his employment." (Compl. at 1.) Specifically, paragraph three of the Severance Agreement and Release provided, in relevant part, that "the Company [defendant Greater Media Inc.] agrees to act in accordance with standard Company practice for current employees if Employee files a claim under Company's long term disability policy." Powell, 2008 WL 3874719, at *3. Plaintiff signed the Severance Agreement and Release on September 29, 2005. On July 20, 2006, he filed a claim for long-term disability benefits. Id. at *4. After GE Group Life Assurance Company, the issuer of Greater Media's Disability Insurance Policy, denied plaintiff's long-term disability claim, plaintiff filed this suit. Id.

Plaintiff's claims are set forth in a three count Complaint. In Count I, plaintiff asserts a claim for benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B), against defendant Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan. Plaintiff alleges in that count that the Severance Agreement and Release amended the language of the Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan ("the Plan") and entitled plaintiff to the benefits due under the Plan to eligible employees. (Compl. ¶¶ 32--33.)

In Count II, plaintiff makes an equitable estoppel claim under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3), against Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan and Greater Media Inc. In that count, plaintiff asks the Court to enjoin the Plan from denying plaintiff benefits on the ground that he was not actively employed at the time he filed for long-term disability benefits. (Compl. at 7.) In Count III, plaintiff asserts a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3)(B), against Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan and Greater Media Inc. Similar to the relief sought in Count II, plaintiff's breach of fiduciary duty claim asks the Court to enjoin the Plan from denying plaintiff long-term disability benefits on the ground that he was not actively employed at the time he filed a claim for such benefits. (Compl. at 8.)

On November 11, 2007, plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J., Doc. No. 9, filed Nov. 11, 2007.) On November 28, 2008, defendants Greater Media Inc. Long Term Disability Plan and Greater Media Inc. filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. (Defs.' Cross Mot. Summ J., Doc No. 11, filed Nov. 28, 2007.) In its Order and Memorandum of August 13, 2008, the Court denied plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, granted defendants' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, and entered judgment in favor of defendants and against plaintiff. The bases for the Court's rulings are discussed in Part IV infra.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

The purpose of a motion for reconsideration of an order is to correct manifest errors of law or fact, or to present newly discovered evidence. Max's Seafood Café v. Max Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A prior decision may be altered or amended only if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Id. "Because federal courts have a strong interest in finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly." ...


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