United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss the plaintiff's claim for long-term disability
benefits, without prejudice, for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies under her ERISA plan. For the reasons
that follow, the motion is GRANTED, and the above-captioned
matter is administratively closed so that the plaintiff may
pursue her claim for long-term disability benefits through
the administrative process.
Zerangue is a participant to both short-term and long-term
disability benefit plans through her employment with Alliance
Benefit Partners. On March 1, 2019, Ms. Zerangue filed this
ERISA action against Lincoln National Life Insurance Company,
the administrator of each plan, seeking to recover short-term
and long-term disability benefits. She alleges that Lincoln
National denied her claim for short-term disability benefits
and then failed to provide a full and fair review of the
adverse benefit determination. She further alleges that,
because the administrator has refused to pay short-term
disability benefits, she reasonably anticipates that it will
also deny her entitlement to long-term disability benefits
(which are subject to a more stringent
National now moves to dismiss the plaintiff's claim for
long-term disability benefits without prejudice under Rule
12(b)(6) on the ground that she has failed to exhaust her
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Such a motion
is rarely granted because it is viewed with disfavor. See
Lowrey v. Tex. A & M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247
(5th Cir. 1997) (quoting Kaiser Aluminum & Chem.
Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d 1045,
1050 (5th Cir. 1982)).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678-79 (2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8). “[T]he pleading
standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations,' but it demands more than an
accusation.” Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Stated
differently, Rule 8 “does not unlock the doors of
discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than
conclusions.” Id. at 678-79.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court
“accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and view[s]
all facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” See Thompson v. City of Waco,
Texas, 764 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Doe
ex rel. Magee v. Covington Cnty. Sch. Dist. ex rel.
Keys, 675 F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2012) (en banc)). But,
in deciding whether dismissal is warranted, the Court will
not accept conclusory allegations in the complaint as true.
Id. at 502-03; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (“[W]e are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”) (internal
survive dismissal, “‘a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (citations and footnote omitted). “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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“The plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”).
This is a “context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679. “Where a complaint
pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.”
Id. at 678 (internal quotations omitted) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “[A]
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief'”, thus,
“requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(alteration in original) (citation omitted).
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may
consider documents that are essentially “part of the
pleadings” -- that is, any documents attached to or
incorporated into the plaintiff's complaint by reference
that are central to the plaintiff's claim for relief.
Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d
285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Collins v.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th