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Chandler v. Hub International Midwest, Limited

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 2, 2015

STEPHANIE CHANDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
HUB INTERNATIONAL MIDWEST, LIMITED, ET AL., Defendants.

ORDER AND REASONS

SUSIE MORGAN, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff Stephanie Chandler's Motion to Remand.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On July 31, 2014, Plaintiff Stephanie Chandler filed a petition in the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, against HUB International Midwest, Limited doing business as HUB International Gulf South ("HUB") and Annette Dowdle ("Dowdle").[2] Plaintiff's petition states that on or about May 3, 2013, Plaintiff began her employment with HUB, an insurance broker.[3] While working for HUB, Plaintiff serviced HUB's client Palm Health Partners ("Palm Health"), including the handling of Palm Health's COBRA obligations.[4] Plaintiff alleges that HUB did not timely send Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 ("COBRA") notices to former employees of Palm Health, which Plaintiff asserts would lead to a denial of Palm Health's employees' COBRA benefits and the potential termination of HUB by Palm Health.[5]

Upon informing management of this issue in July of 2013, Plaintiff alleges she was instructed by her manager Annette Dowdle to backdate the COBRA notices.[6] Plaintiff claims she told Dowdle she would not backdate the notices because she thought doing so would be illegal.[7] Plaintiff was fired on December 19, 2013 and filed suit in state court claiming she was terminated in retaliation for objecting to and refusing to send out backdated COBRA notices.[8] Plaintiff's petition asserts the following Louisiana state law claims:

(1) Violation of La. R.S. 23:967 [Louisiana's Whistleblower Statute];
(2) Retaliation;
(3) Violation of Article 2315 of the Louisiana Civil Code [Liability for acts causing damage];
(4) Violation of Article 2320 of the Louisiana Civil Code [Vicarious Liability Statute][;]
(5) Failure to supervise employees;
(6) Solicitation;
(7) Hostile work environment; [and]
(8) All other intentional acts or acts of negligence that may be proven at the trial of this matter.[9]

On September 12, 2014, Defendants HUB and Dowdle removed the case to this Court.[10] Defendants assert that, although Plaintiff's claims are drafted as state law claims, they are completely preempted by ERISA and thus may be removed to this Court, regardless of whether Plaintiff uses the word "ERISA" in her petition.[11] Defendants claim ERISA's preemption provisions supersede ...


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