United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JEAN C. HAMILTON, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, filed April 23, 2015. (ECF No. 5). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
Plaintiff Lisa Jones was a participant in Defendant The Boeing Company Employee Health and Welfare Benefit Plan (Plan 503) ("Plan"), an employee benefit plan sponsored by Defendant The Boeing Company ("Boeing"), and governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (Complaint ("Compl."), ¶¶ 3, 4, 8; Plan, P. 95). Defendant the Employee Benefit Plans Committee ("Committee") was the Plan Administrator for the Plan. (Plan, PP. 93, 95). The Plan provided participants coverage for short term disability ("STD") benefits, and such benefits were self-funded by Boeing and administered by Defendant Aetna Life Insurance Company ("Aetna"). (Compl, ¶¶ 2, 6, 8; Plan, PP. 22-27, 95, 104).
In her Complaint in this matter, filed February 23, 2015, Plaintiff alleges she became disabled as of October 16, 2013. (Compl., ¶ 8). She asserts that Aetna, the Committee and/or Boeing failed timely to pay her STD benefits. ( Id., ¶ 11). Plaintiff further alleges that, "[p]leading hypothetically and in the alternative, Defendants Aetna, Committee and/or Boeing failed to provide Plaintiff notice of how to obtain benefits, either through actual notice or thorough the Summary Plan Description or, failed to provide her a copy of the Summary Plan Description, or alternatively, failed to provide Plaintiff with a copy of her claims file as required by ERISA; any or all of which allegedly resulted in a failure by Plaintiff to provide the necessary information to receive the disability benefits." ( Id., ¶ 12). Based on these allegations, Plaintiff seeks benefits under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) (Count I); alleges a breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA (Count II); and alleges a claim for statutory penalties under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1022(a), 1024(b), and 1132(c), for failure timely to provide the Summary Plan Description and/or the administrative record. ( Id., ¶¶ 7-26).
As noted above, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on April 23, 2015, claiming Counts II and III of Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed because: (1) Plaintiff fails to allege those claims with sufficient particularity; (2) Plaintiff fails to plead the elements of a statutory penalty claim; (3) Plaintiff's fiduciary breach claim is nothing more than a repackaged claim for benefits under § 1132(a)(1)(B); and (4) the Committee and Boeing are not proper party Defendants to Plaintiff's claims.
STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
In ruling on a motion dismiss, the Court must view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008). The Court, "must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). The complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " however, and the motion to dismiss must be granted if the complaint does not contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). Furthermore, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (pleading offering only "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" will not do)).
I. Should Count III Be Dismissed For Failure To State A Claim?
In Count III of her Complaint, Plaintiff pleads in relevant part as follows:
22. Pleading alternatively, Defendants Aetna, Committee or Boeing acted as the Plan Administrator for the actions described herein.
23. Defendants therefore failed to reasonably apprise participants and beneficiaries of their rights and obligations under the Plan by providing a Summary Plan Description and/or the Administrative Record pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 1022(a), 1024(b) and 1132(c).
24. Pleading alternatively, as a direct result of this failure, Plaintiff did not receive the benefits she was entitled ...