United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [DKT. NO.
M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the
defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings
(Dkt. No. 18).
October 10, 2017, the plaintiff, Richard Figlioli
(“Figlioli”), sued the defendants, Liberty Life
Assurance Company of Boston (“Liberty Life”) and
Group Life Insurance and Disability Plan of United
Technologies Corporation (“the Plan”) (Dkt. No.
1), alleging that, while working at Pratt & Whitney as a
Materials Supervisor in Bridgeport, West Virginia, he became
unable to work on September 17, 2007, due to injuries
sustained when he fell from a tree. Figlioli's internist
issued medical restrictions outlining that he was
“unable to work on a consistent basis . . . due to a
severe disorder of the spine, including arachnoiditis, spinal
stenosis and degenerative disk disease as a result of
vertebral fractures resulting in the compromise of the nerve
root.” Id. at 2.
defendants paid long-term disability benefits for Figlioli
for approximately eight years, finding he was “unable
to perform, with reasonable continuity, the material and
substantial duties of any occupation.” However, in
reliance on a “non-examining paper-review, ”
Liberty Life denied Figlioli further benefits as of March 7,
2017. Following an appeal, Liberty Life issued a final denial
letter on September 5, 2017. Figlioli has not received
monthly benefits since March 6, 2017. Id. at 1-2.
the final denial of benefits, Figlioli requested “a
complete copy of the applicable plan(s), summary plan
descriptions, policies and claims file, including but not
limited to the documents” further described in his
letter (Dkt. No. 19-3 at 2). He specifically requested that
the defendants provide those documents contemplated by 29
U.S.C. §§ 1024, 1029, and 1132, as well as 29
C.F.R. § 2560.503. Id. In response, Liberty
Life provided a copy of the claim files and the applicable
policies, but advised that other documents must be sought
from the plan administrator (Dkt. No. 19-4 at 2).
claims he is entitled to disability benefits under the Plan,
and that the defendants failed to comply with their statutory
and regulatory duties to provide an adequate response to his
document request. Id. at 3-7. Consequently, Count
One makes a claim for benefits under the Plan, while Count
Two makes a claim related to the defendants' alleged duty
to provide documents under 29 U.S.C. §§
1132(a)(1)(A) and (c)(1). Id. Figlioli seeks 1) a
declaration that the defendants must pay his past due
benefits, 2) the assessment of a $110 per day penalty for
failing to provide Plan documents, 3) an order requiring the
defendants to provide all relevant documents, 4) an award of
retroactive long-term disability benefits and the
reinstatement of future benefits, and 5) attorneys' fees
and costs. Id. at 7.
January 19, 2018, the defendants moved for judgment on Count
Two (Dkt. No. 18), arguing that they cannot be held liable
for statutory penalties under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c)
because neither is the “Plan Administrator, ” and
that statutory penalties are unavailable with regard to
document production mandated by regulation (Dkt. No. 19).
Figlioli has withdrawn his request for statutory penalties,
but continues to seek discovery of the documents at issue
(Dkt. No. 21).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Civ. P. 12(c) provides that, “[a]fter the pleadings are
closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may
move for judgment on the pleadings.” “The
standard of review for Rule 12(c) motions is the same
standard applied to Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss.”
Carter v. Nat'l City Mortg., Inc., No. 1:14CV70,
2015 WL 966260, at *3 (N.D.W.Va. Mar. 4, 2015) (citing
Independence News, Inc. v. City of Charlotte, 568
F.3d 148, 154 (4th Cir. 2009)). As the Court has noted,
“[t]he only difference between a Rule 12(c) motion and
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is timing.” Id.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move for dismissal on
the grounds that a complaint does not “state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” When reviewing the
sufficiency of a complaint, a district court “must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint.” Anderson v. Sara Lee Corp.,
508 F.3d 181, 188 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). “While a
complaint . . . does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(internal citation omitted). A court is “not bound to
accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265,
order to be sufficient, “a complaint must contain
‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Anderson, 508
F.3d at 188 n.7 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A motion to dismiss “does not
resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a
claim, or the applicability of defenses.”
Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943,
952 (4th Cir. 1992).
deciding on the motion, the Court need not confine its
inquiry to the complaint; it may also consider
“documents incorporated into the complaint by
reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial
notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). “A copy of
a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a
part of the pleading for all purposes.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
10(c). The Court may also consider documents attached to the
motion to dismiss, so long as they are integral to the
complaint and authentic.” Philips v. Pitt Cty.
Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009). The
defendants attached the following documents to their motion
for judgment on the pleadings: the policy, the summary plan
description, Figlioli's letter requesting documents, and
Liberty Life's response (Dkt. Nos. 19-1; 19-2; 19-3;
19-4). Given that these documents are integral to the
complaint, and Figlioli does not contest their authenticity,
the Court will consider them.