Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rodriguez v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

May 17, 2017

RICARDO RODRIGUEZ and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HARTFORD LIFE AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SIM LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("Defendant's Motion to Dismiss") (Docket Entry No. 25) . For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, Ricardo Rodriguez, initiated this suit against Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company ("Hartford") to recover disability benefits under a policy Hartford issued to Rodriguez's former employer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In his Second Amended Complaint, Rodriguez has abandoned his benefits claim and now seeks, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, to have Hartford enjoined from imposing a contractual limitations period on long-term disability claims shorter than that permitted by Arkansas law and to reform Hartford's Group Long Term Disability Plan ("the Policy"). The Policy contains the following General Provision:

         Legal action cannot be taken against [Hartford]:

1) sooner than 60 days after the date Proof of Loss is given; or
2) 3 years after the date written Proof of Loss is required to be given according to the terms of The Policy.[1]

         Rodriguez seeks an injunction pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3), which empowers a plan participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary to bring a civil action "(A) to enjoin any act or practice which violates any provision of this subchapter or the terms of the Plan, or (B) to obtain other appropriate equitable relief (i) to redress such violations or (ii) to enforce any provisions of this subchapter or the terms of the plan." Rodriguez also alleges a breach of fiduciary duty premised on the same contractual limitations period. Hartford has moved to dismiss Rodriguez's Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) (6) .

         II. Legal Standard

         Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate when a plaintiff's legal theory is incorrect: "When a complaint raises an arguable question of law which the district court ultimately finds is correctly resolved against the plaintiff, dismissal on Rule 12(b) (6) grounds is appropriate . . . ." Neitzke v. Williams, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1833 (1989). " [W] hen the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency should ... be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1966 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Application

         Rodriguez advances claims for breach of fiduciary duty and Employee Retirement Income Security Act violations premised on the invalidity of the Policy's contractual limitations period. Because the court concludes that the Arkansas statute at issue does not apply to policies which, like Hartford's Policy, do not insure property or life, Rodriguez's claims fail. The court therefore does not reach the parties' remaining arguments.

         Rodriguez argues that Hartford's three-year contractual limitation on legal actions is void because it requires that an action on the Policy be brought within a shorter time than the statutory five-year limitations period mandated by Arkansas Code § 23-79-202, which states:

(a) An action may be maintained in the courts of this state by an insured or any other person on his or her behalf to recover on any claim or loss arising under a policy of insurance on property or life against the insurer issuing the policy or against the sureties on any bond filed by the insurer as a condition precedent to its right to do business in this state, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.