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Burgett v. Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

May 30, 2014

SAMUEL BURGETT, individually and as administrator of ALESIA CAROL BURGETT's ESTATE, Plaintiff,
v.
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL HEALTHCARE, INC. and METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the plaintiff's motion to remand (DE 6) and on the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's state-law claims (DE 4). Because the plaintiff asserts ERISA claims and because the life insurance policy at issue is governed by ERISA, the motion to remand will be denied and the plaintiff's state-law claims will be dismissed.

I. Facts

Burgett filed this action in Perry Circuit Court. In his complaint, Burgett asserts that he was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy issued to his wife, Alesia, by the defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Alesia is deceased and Burgett is the administrator of her estate. Alesia was employed by defendant Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. ("ARH") and, according to the plaintiff, the insurance policy was offered by ARH to its employees. According to the complaint, ARH was the administrator of the life insurance plan.

Burgett alleges that Alesia was diagnosed with terminal cancer and became unable to work on June 17, 2005. Alesia died on October 18, 2011. Burgett asserts that he made a claim to MetLife for life insurance benefits on or about October 25, 2011 but that, by letter dated January 19, 2012, the claim was denied. Burgett asserts that ARH stated that the policy had been terminated March 6, 2009.

Burgett appears to assert against ARH and MetLife common-law claims for breach of contract, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and bad faith and claims that the defendants violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act ("KCPA") and the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act ("KUCSPA).

The plaintiff also asserts claims under several provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Specifically, the plaintiff asserts ERISA claims for:

• benefits due under the plan under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) (DE 1-2, Complaint ¶ 42);
• breach of fiduciary duty under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2) (DE 1-2, Complaint ¶ 44);
• equitable relief under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3) (DE 1-2, Complaint ¶ 44.); and
• failure to provide requested documents under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1024(b)(4) and 1132(c)(1)(B). (DE 1-2, Complaint ¶¶ 56, 57.)

The defendants removed the action asserting that this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 which grants this court jurisdiction over all actions arising under federal law. The defendants argue that this Court has jurisdiction because Burgett asserts claims under ERISA. Burgett moves to remand the matter to state court arguing that there is no evidence in the record that ERISA governs the life insurance policy at issue. The defendants move to dismiss all of Burgett's state-law claims asserting that they are preempted under ERISA.

II. Motion to Remand (DE 6)

Federal-question jurisdiction exists when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's complaint. Paul v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio, 701 F.3d 514, 518 (6th Cir. 2012). In determining whether federal-question jurisdiction exists, the Court need not determine whether the plan is governed by ERISA. This is because "federal subject-matter jurisdiction lies over Plaintiffs' suit as long as they raise a colorable claim under ERISA." Daft v. Advest, Inc., 658 F.3d 583, 593 (6th Cir.2011). Whether the plan is ...


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