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Diener v. Life Insurance Company of North America

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 9, 2014

SETH J. DIENER, Guardian Ad Litem of ESTATE OF JOSEPH THOMAS MANCUSO, IV, a minor, and SETH J. DIENER, Administrator Pro Tem of the ESTATE OF LISA MARIE MANCUSO, deceased and SETH J. DIENER, as Power of Attorney for KAREN ROSE DIENER Plaintiff,
v.
LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

RONALD L. BUCKWALTER, Sr., District Judge.

Pending before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant Life Insurance Company of North America and the Motion for Summary Judgment by Plaintiff Seth Diener. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment are each denied in their entirety.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

Plaintiff is an individual residing in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. (Sec. Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant Life Insurance Company of North America ("LINA") is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania. (Sec. Am. Compl. ¶ 5; Def.'s Answer to Sec. Am. Compl. ¶ 5.)

Prior to her death, Lisa Marie Mancuso ("Decedent") was an employee of The Renfrew Centers, Inc. ("Renfrew") (Sec. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 12.) During Decedent's employment, Renfrew offered its employees the chance to purchase life insurance underwritten by LINA. (Sec. Am. Compl., Ex. B, Renfrew Group Policy.) As part of her employment, Decedent was automatically enrolled in a group life insurance policy with benefits equal to one year's salary. (Sec. Am. Compl., Ex. C, CIGNA Literature.) Decedent also had the option of purchasing additional, voluntary life insurance. (Id.) During the course of Decedent's employment, Decedent received literature from Renfrew that stated, in relevant part:

Renfrew provides, at no cost to you, a benefit equal to one times your annual salary, to a maximum of $200, 000.... You have the opportunity to purchase additional life insurance for yourself, your spouse/partner, and your dependent children at group rates via payroll deduction (with post tax dollars). You may purchase amounts between $10, 000 and $500, 000 in $10, 000 increments, up to a maximum of five times your annual salary.

(Id.)

Plaintiff purports that in October 2009, Renfrew issued a "Confirmation Statement" to Decedent that "confirm[ed] [her] recent benefit elections for the 2009-10 Open Enrollment period." (Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J, Ex. C, Confirmation Statement.) Among the benefits catalogued in the Confirmation Statement is a "CIGNA Group Term Life Insurance" policy at a value of $45, 000, equal to one year of Plaintiff's salary at that time. (Id.) Also listed is a "CIGNA Voluntary Life Insurance" policy at a value of $120, 000. (Id.) According to the Confirmation Statement, "[t]hese benefits will remain in effect [from November 1, 2009] until October 31, 2010." (Id.) Decedent appears to have signed the Confirmation Statement with the date "10/ /09." (Id.)

Sometime around April 2010, Decedent began working at Renfrew on a part-time basis, earning a salary of approximately $23, 000. (Sec. Am. Compl., Ex. E, E-Mail from Decedent to Plaintiff.) On April 16, 2010, Decedent sent an e-mail to Plaintiff, her brother and financial advisor, stating:

I have some questions related to my benefits at work. I know you said before to always do 401k up to what your employer matches. Does always include now with everything I have going on? I def will be pinching pennys [sic]. I am working part time at Renfrew so my salary is dropping to $20, 563.20.... Same questions for my life insurance[.]"

(Id.) On October 7, 2010, Decedent died. (Sec. Am. Compl. ¶ 8.)

Plaintiff initiated the present litigation by filing a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County on June 1, 2011. On June 11, 2011 Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County. On July 8, 2011, Defendant CIGNA Corporation ("CIGNA") removed this case to federal court. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on October 14, 2011.

After some initial motion practice, on February 13, 2013, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of Count I, and parts of Counts II and III of the Second Amended Complaint. Now, acting in his capacities as guardian ad litem for Joseph Thomas Mancuso, IV, as administrator pro tem of Decedent's estate, and as power of attorney for Karen Rose Diener, Plaintiff brings two causes of action: Count II alleges that LINA breached its contract with Decedent as to a voluntary life insurance policy; and Count III claims LINA breached its fiduciary duty to Decedent as to the same voluntary life insurance policy in violation of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA").

On September 4, 2013, Defendant LINA filed its pending Motion for Summary Judgment. On September 5, 2013, Plaintiff filed his pending Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant LINA filed its Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's ...


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