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D'Antuono v. Temple University Health System, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 3, 2018

MICHELLE J. D'ANTUONO, Plaintiff,
v.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM, INC. and RELIANCE STANDARD LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          BAYLSON, J.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Michelle J. D'Antuono, widow of the late Joseph B. D'Antuono, filed suit against her late husband's employer, Defendant Temple University Health System, Inc., and the company through which Joseph received life insurance as a Temple employee, Defendant Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, after she failed to receive benefits after Joseph's death. Her amended complaint alleged four counts, which, critically for this litigation, are not labeled with specific causes of action. The Court describes them, as best it can, as follows:

I) Failure to pay benefits in violation of ERISA
II) Failure to notify Joseph of his conversion rights in violation of the terms of the Policy
III) Breach of Implied Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; and
IV) Failure by Temple and Reliance to notify Joseph of his conversion rights in violation of the terms of the Policy

         Defendants now move to dismiss Counts II-IV as preempted by ERISA. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motions are GRANTED WITH PREJUDICE.

         II. Background

         The following facts are accepted as true from the Amended Complaint. Plaintiff Michelle J. D'Antuono's husband, Joseph D'Antuono, was employed by Defendant Temple University Health System Inc. (“Temple”) from May, 2015 through January 31, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF 6). Joseph died on March 1, 2016. (Id. ¶ 16).

         Temple provided Joseph with Life Insurance Policy No. GL668924 (“Policy”) through Defendant Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company (“Reliance”) in the amount of $500, 000.00. (Id. ¶ 6). Under the terms of this life insurance policy, following the termination of his employment, Joseph had the option to convert his group life insurance policy to an individual life insurance policy. (Id. ¶ 27). He had a 31-day “conversion period” from the termination of his employment to exercise this option, which commenced on February 1, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15). Joseph did not receive written notice from Reliance or Temple of his right to convert to an individual life insurance policy, which the terms of the Policy entitled him to, making him unable to convert to an individual life insurance policy. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 40-41).

         After Joseph's death, Plaintiff made a claim for benefits under the Policy, but Reliance denied her claim in a letter dated August 1, 2016. (Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff appealed the denial of benefits on September, 27, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 18; Ex. D). Reliance denied her appeal on December 16, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19; Ex. E). After further review, Reliance again denied her claim for benefits on December 22, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20, Ex. F).

         III. Procedural History

         Plaintiff originally filed this action in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County on February 27, 2018. (Notice of Removal, ECF 1 at 4). On April 9, 2018, Temple removed the action to this Court based on diversity of citizenship. (Id.) After Reliance moved to dismiss the initial complaint, ...


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