United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JEANNE RHOADES On behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
BJC HEALTH SYSTEM d/b/a BJC Healthcare et al. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF REMAND
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
class action case was originally filed in the Circuit Court
of St. Louis County, State of Missouri. Defendant BJC Health
System is the parent company of the other Defendant hospitals
and medical providers named in the petition. Defendants
removed this case asserting that some of Plaintiff Jeanne
Rhoades's claims are preempted by the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. §§
1001, et seq. Rhoades argues that her claims are not
preempted and she has filed a motion to remand this matter to
state court. Because Rhoades claims are not preempted by
ERISA, I will grant her motion to remand.
is employed as a perfusionist at Defendant Missouri Baptist
Medical Center. Rhoades' petition asserts state law
claims to recover back-pay allegedly owed for “on-call
pay, ” “call-back pay, ” “voucher
pay, ” and “paid time off” which Rhoades
claims her employer has not paid. In her claims she also
seeks to recover corresponding contributions to her
retirement plan account.
removed this case invoking the Court's federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Defendants assert
that some of Rhoades claims are preempted by ERISA. State law
claims challenging an employer's action relating to
employee benefit plans are preempted by ERISA. Pilot Life
Insurance v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 57 (1987). The
provisions of ERISA are “deliberately expansive, and
designed to establish pension plan regulation as exclusively
a federal concern.” Id. at 46. When a
plaintiff files a case in state court asserting state law
claims which are preempted by ERISA, the case is removable to
federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Metropolitan
Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, (1987). The party
seeking removal and opposing remand has the burden to
establish federal subject matter jurisdiction. In re
Business Men's Assurance Co. of America, 992 F.2d
181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993). All doubts about federal
jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of remand.
argue that the benefits Rhoades seeks to recover in the form
of contributions to her retirement plan are claims which can
only be brought under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(A)(1)(b). That
provision allows plan participants, in relevant part, to
“recover benefits due to him under the terms of his
filed a motion to remand. In her motion she asserts that she
is not seeking “any direct enforcement, clarification
of rights or recovery of benefits under the authority of an
ERISA benefit plan.” [Doc. # 21, Pl.'s Mot. to
Remand, p. 2] To the contrary, she argues that her claims are
not preempted by ERISA because she merely seeks from her
employer unpaid wages and the corresponding payments that
would be directed to her “related retirement
plan.” She is not seeking benefits due to her under the
terms of the retirement plan itself.
Rhoades is asserting claims against her employer for wages,
some of which are in the form of contributions that would be
paid into her retirement plan, I find that Rhoades is not
seeking benefits due to her under the terms of her retirement
States District Judge John A. Ross from this Court reached a
similar conclusion in Goldstein v. Media Mgmt.,
Inc., No. 4:12CV1021 JAR, 2012 WL 4793741, at *3 (E.D.
Mo. Oct. 9, 2012). In that case a plaintiff sought to recover
wages (in the form of bonuses) from his employer who
converted the funds for its own use. The plaintiff asserted a
state law claim for breach of fiduciary duty against his
employer. As part of his claim the plaintiff alleged he would
have received additional contributions to his retirement plan
that would have been made had his wages not been withheld.
The employer asserted that the claim was preempted by ERISA
because it was related to a retirement plan. Judge Ross found
that the claim was not preempted. He reasoned that because
the plaintiff was seeking the recovery of wages that should
have been paid into his retirement plan the claim was not
seeking benefits from the plan. See also,
Agnifili v. KFC Corp., 924 F.Supp. 78, 81
(W.D. Ky. 1996) (no ERISA preemption when plaintiff sought
damages from employer, in part, for employee benefits and
damages were measured by reference to an employee benefit
plan but the plaintiff was not seeking to enforce rights or
clarify rights under the plan).
result, because I find that Rhoades' complaint does not
assert claims that are preempted by ERISA, Rhoades motion to
remand will be granted.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Jeanne
Rhoades' motion to remand  is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is
REMANDED to the Circuit Court of St. Louis
County, State of Missouri under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties each bear their
own costs incurred by reason of these ...