United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
A. DOUGHTY, JUDGE.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HAYES, MAGISTATE JUDGE.
the undersigned magistrate judge, on reference from the
District Court, is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or alternatively,
motion for summary judgment [doc. # 5] filed by defendant,
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”).
Also before the court are three motions filed by plaintiff
Kevin Trahan: 1) a motion to strike defendant's exhibit
[doc. #12]; 2) a motion to compel defendant to produce a copy
of the administrative record [doc. # 22]; and 3) a motion to
deem plaintiff's reply brief also to be a supplemental
opposition memorandum [doc. 23]. For reasons detailed below,
it is recommended that defendant's motion to
dismiss/summary judgment be DENIED. Moreover, it is ORDERED
that plaintiff's motions are DENIED.
September 25, 2018, Kevin Trahan filed the instant suit
against MetLife for its alleged arbitrary and wrongful
failure to pay benefits under a long term disability policy
that Trahan subscribed to during his employment with
Performance Entergy and Quanta Services, Inc. (Compl.).
Trahan seeks resulting damages, including penalties,
reasonable attorney's fees, and legal interest.
October 31, 2018, MetLife filed the instant motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, or alternatively for summary judgment, on the basis
that Trahan purportedly failed to exhaust administrative
remedies before filing suit as required by the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).
In support of its motion, MetLife submitted portions of the
administrative record, including the long term disability
plan, and an affidavit from Matthew Hallford, a MetLife
litigation specialist. See doc. #s 9-10.
November 21, 2018, plaintiff filed his opposition to
MetLife's motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment.
[doc. # 11]. He argued that the motion was premature because
MetLife had not furnished plaintiff or the court with a
complete copy of the administrative record. Trahan further
argued that he exhausted the administrative appeal
requirements. Finally, he asserted that MetLife instituted an
invalid internal claim process because it required
claimants/beneficiaries to shoulder the financial burden of
supplying the plan administrator with copies of records,
reports, and medical services.
conjunction with his opposition brief, plaintiff filed a
motion to strike [doc. # 12] the affidavit of Matthew
Hallford submitted by MetLife because litigants ordinarily
are not permitted to offer evidence outside the four corners
of the administrative record.
November 27, 2018, MetLife filed its reply brief in support
of its motion to dismiss/summary judgment. [doc. # 15]. On
November 29, 2018, MetLife obtained leave of court to
amend/correct its exhibits submitted in support of its motion
to dismiss. [doc. #s 14, 16-18].
filed its opposition to plaintiff's motion to strike on
December 13, 2018. [doc. # 19]. Plaintiff filed his reply
brief on December 19, 2018. [doc. # 21].
filed two additional motions on December 19: 1) a motion to
deem [doc. # 23] his reply brief in support of his motion to
strike as a supplemental memorandum in opposition to
MetLife's motion to dismiss/summary judgment; and 2) a
motion to compel [doc. # 22] MetLife to prepare and file a
complete administrative record so plaintiff could proceed to
the merits of the case.
January 2, 2019, the court reviewed the record and noted that
plaintiff's complaint failed to allege any basis for the
court's exercise of subject matter jurisdiction. (Jan. 2,
2019, Order [doc. # 25]). Accordingly, the court granted
plaintiff leave to amend his jurisdictionally bereft
January 10, 2019, plaintiff amended his complaint to invoke
the court's federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, on the basis that he was seeking benefits due
under the terms of an ERISA disability plan issued by his
employer. (Pl. Amend. Compl.). He alternatively asserted that
the court enjoyed diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. §
1332, because the parties were completely diverse, and the
amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000.
Id. Plaintiff also “acknowledge[d] that
any state claim he might otherwise have has probably been
preempted by ERISA, but to the extent that the evidence
presented hereafter may show the existence of any
non-pre-empted state claim, plaintiff would show that there
is supplemental jurisdiction over any such claim under 28
U.S.C. 1367.” Id.
amended complaint, plaintiff conceded that there had been a
previous proceeding involving the same parties and related
issues before this court, Trahan v. Metropolitan Life
Insurance Co., No. 15-2803 (W.D. La.) (“Trahan
I”). Plaintiff agreed that in Trahan I,
this court rendered judgment on the merits in MetLife's
favor as to his claims under a short term disability plan,
and dismissed without prejudice his claims under the long
term disability plan. Id. Plaintiff then proceeded
to incorporate the arguments pertaining to the pending
motions into his amended pleading. Id.
January 7, 2019, MetLife filed its opposition [doc. # 26] to
plaintiff's motion to compel, in which it argued that, 1)
an action for review on an administrative record is exempted
from initial disclosure requirements, 2) plaintiff had not
issued a formal discovery request to MetLife, and 3) the
court has yet to issue its civil case management order
requiring MetLife to file a copy of the administrative
record. Plaintiff filed his reply brief in support of his
motion to compel on January 14, 2019. [doc. # 28]. Therefore,
the matter is ripe.
Motion to Dismiss vs. Motion for Summary Judgment
evidence outside of the pleadings is presented to the court
and used in deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, then the court must
convert the matter to a motion for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Knighton v. Merscorp Inc., 304
Fed.Appx. 285, 287 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing
Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987
F.2d 278, 283 (5th Cir.1993)). In the matter sub
judice, MetLife submitted an affidavit from its
litigation specialist, Matthew Hallford, whereby he averred
that MetLife never received a request from Trahan for an
administrative appeal of its March 28, 2018, claim denial.
(Hallford Affidavit). Defendant necessarily relies on this
evidence to support its exhaustion argument; therefore, the
court must convert the 12(b) motion into a motion for summary
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).
event of conversion, Rule 12(d) requires that all parties be
afforded a reasonable opportunity to present all material
pertinent to a motion for summary judgment. Id.
Specifically, the notice and hearing requirements of Rules
12(b) and 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure must
be adhered to. Mackey v. Owens, 1999 WL 423077 (5th
Cir. June 2, 1999) (unpubl.).
court, however, need not give a party “express
notice” that a motion to dismiss will be treated as a
motion for summary judgment:
given [Rule 12(d)]'s express declaration that a motion to
dismiss shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment
where matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the simple act of placing matters
outside the pleadings before the court provides adequate