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Lisa Bidlingmeyer v. Broadspire

September 27, 2011

LISA BIDLINGMEYER
v.
BROADSPIRE, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.

MEMORANDUM

This action arises from the denial of disability benefits under an employee benefits plan. The defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court grants the motion.

I. Factual Background

The plaintiff, Lisa Bidlingmeyer, was employed by defendant Johnson & Johnson. As part of her employee benefits package, Bidlingmeyer was entitled to short-term and long-term disability coverage under the Long Term Disability Income Plan for Choices Eligible Employees of Johnson & Johnson and Affiliated Companies ("the Plan"). After Bidlingmeyer sustained a permanent disabling injury as defined by the Plan, she made a claim for long-term disability benefits. Bidlingmeyer received benefits from January 25, 2001 until December 2004, when Johnson & Johnson informed her that her claim for benefits would be denied. On September 23, 2005, Johnson & Johnson issued a final decision denying benefits. Thereafter, Defendant Broadspire, an insurer, refused to pay disability benefits to Bidlingmeyer.

Bidlingmeyer filed a complaint against defendants Broadspire and Johnson & Johnson on February 2, 2011, bringing claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., and, in particular, § 1132(a)(1)(B). The defendants answered on April 4, 2011. On the same date, the defendants filed the instant motion, attaching a copy of the Plan.*fn1

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings based

on the defense that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim is analyzed under the same legal standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Revell v. Port Auth., 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010); Turbe v. Gov't of the V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991). Therefore, the Court accepts all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Revell, 598 F.3d at 134.

A Rule 12 motion to dismiss may be granted based on a statute of limitations defense when noncompliance is apparent from the face of the complaint. W. Penn Allegheny Health Sys., Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 105 n.13 (3d Cir. 2010).

B. Statute of Limitations

The defendants argue that the plaintiff's claims are untimely because (1) the express terms of the Plan require any lawsuit challenging denial of benefits to be filed within one year after the Plan administrator's final decision, or alternatively, (2) the claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations, which expired in 2009. The Court concludes that Bidlingmeyer's claims are untimely under the four-year statute of limitations.

1. Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The plaintiff contends that the six-year statute of limitations for breach of fiduciary duty claims under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1113, is the appropriate limitations period. As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that the complaint does not appear to bring claims for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2). Rather, the preliminary statement declares that the action arises under § 1132(a)(1)(B). Complaint at 1. That subparagraph provides a non-fiduciary cause of action "to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the ...


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