United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Raymond L. Eichenberger, Plaintiff,
Cardinal Health, Inc., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. GRAHAM, United States District Judge
Raymond L. Eichenberger, proceeding pro se, brings
this action alleging that defendant Cardinal Health, Inc.
wrongfully terminated the dependent health insurance coverage
he received as the spouse of Maxine Irvin, a Cardinal
employee. Plaintiff's complaint seeks declaratory relief
stating that defendant has an obligation under federal and
state law to provide him with health insurance coverage.
Plaintiff also alleges that defendant committed violations of
federal and state law in terminating his coverage, and he
seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
matter is before the court on defendant's unopposed
motion for judgment on the pleadings. “After the
pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial -
a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The standard applied to motions for
judgment on the pleadings is the same standard applicable to
motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Hindel v.
Husted, 875 F.3d 344, 346 (6th Cir. 2017). “For
purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all
well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the
opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be
granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly
entitled to judgment.” JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v.
Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal
citation and quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand
the motion, the “factual allegations in the complaint
need to be sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to
what claims are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead
‘sufficient factual matter' to render the legal
claim plausible, i.e., more than merely possible.”
Fritz v. Charter Township of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718,
722 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “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.
correctly notes that this suit concerns coverage under a
benefit plan offered through an employer for the purpose of
providing medical and related benefits to employee
participants and their beneficiaries. See Compl.,
¶ 4. Claims related to the Plan are governed by the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C.
complaint, plaintiff asserts that his entitlement to benefits
is, in part, based upon state law and that defendant has
committed violations of state law by denying him Plan
benefits. Although the complaint fails to identify which
state law or laws are implicated, the court finds in any
event that ERISA preempts plaintiff's state law claims.
See 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a) (“[T]he
provisions of this subchapter and subchapter III shall
supersede any and all State laws insofar as they may now or
hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan described in
section 1003(a) of this title and not exempt under section
1003(b) of this title.”); Cromwell v.
Equicor-Equitable HCA Corp., 944 F.2d 1272, 1275-76 (6th
court further finds that the complaint's demands for
compensatory and punitive damages and for a jury trial must
be dismissed. It is well-settled that “extracontractual
compensatory and punitive damages are not available under
ERISA” and that that “there is no right to a jury
trial on ERISA claims for recovery of benefits.”
Vargas v. Child Dev. Council of Franklin Cnty.,
Inc., 269 F.Supp.2d 954, 956-57 (S.D. Ohio 2003) (citing
defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's ERISA claim on the
ground that the complaint names the wrong defendant.
Plaintiff has sued Cardinal Health, Inc., the Plan Sponsor,
rather than the Plan itself. See Riverview Health Inst.
LLC v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 601 F.3d 505, 522 (6th Cir.
2010) (the plan administrator is the proper defendant in an
ERISA action concerning benefits).
response, plaintiff has moved to voluntarily dismiss his
complaint without prejudice to refiling. Plaintiff states
that certain issues are currently being resolved in his state
court divorce proceeding with Maxine Irvin that will
influence whether he wishes to proceed with this litigation.
argues that any grant of a dismissal without prejudice should
be conditioned upon reasonable terms. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2); Bridgeport Music, Inc. v.
Universal-MCA Music Pub., Inc., 583 F.3d 948, 953-54
(6th Cir. 2009) (“A Rule 41(a)(2) dismissal may be
conditioned on whatever terms the district court deems
necessary to offset the prejudice the defendant may suffer
from a dismissal without prejudice.”).
court agrees that a dismissal of the complaint should be
conditioned on certain terms. First, as set forth above,
plaintiff's state law claims and demands for damages and
a jury trial are dismissed with prejudice. Second, an ERISA
claim for recovery of benefits is plaintiff's sole claim
arising from the facts alleged in the complaint. As such, in
a refiled action, the defendant (assuming the proper
defendant is named), may proceed immediately with filing the
Administrative Record and moving for judgment thereon.
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings (doc.
29) is granted as to plaintiff's state law claims and
demands for damages and a jury trial. The court declines to
rule on the motion as it concerns whether the named defendant
is a proper party to an ERISA claim. Plaintiff's motion
to voluntarily dismiss his claims without prejudice is