B et al v. Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company et al
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND; DENYING PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR FEES AND COSTS. Signed by Judge Maxine M. Chesney on July 22, 2014. (mmclc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/22/2014)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
JEFFERY B.; JAMISON B.,
No. C 14-2253 MMC
ANTHEM BLUE CROSS LIFE & HEALTH
INSURANCE COMPANY; BLUE CROSS OF
CALIFORNIA INC.; ANTHEM UM
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’
MOTION TO REMAND; DENYING
PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST FOR FEES
For the Northern District of California
United States District Court
Before the Court is plaintiffs’ motion, filed June 13, 2014, to remand the above-titled
action to the Superior Court of the State of California. Defendants have filed opposition,
and plaintiff has filed a reply. Having read and considered the papers filed in support of
and in opposition to the motion, the Court finds the matter appropriate for decision on the
parties’ respective written submissions, VACATES the hearing scheduled for July 25, 2014,
and rules as follows.
1. The Court agrees with plaintiffs that the nature and number of persons employed
by plaintiffs’ law firm precludes a finding that the policy at issue is an employee benefit plan
as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). See 29 C.F.R.
§ 2510.3-3(b)-(c) (providing “employee benefit plan” under ERISA “shall not include any
plan, fund, or program . . . under which no employees are participants covered under the
plan”; further providing “[a]n individual and his or her spouse shall not be deemed to be
employees with respect to a trade or business . . . which is wholly owned by the individual
or by the individual and his or her spouse”); see also Raymond B. Yates, M.D., P.C. Profit
Sharing Plan v. Hendon, 541 U.S. 1, 21 (2004) (holding “[p]lans that cover only sole owners
or partners and their spouses . . . fall outside . . . domain” of Title I of ERISA).
2. The Court finds unpersuasive defendants’ argument that plaintiffs can be
estopped from asserting the policy is other than an ERISA plan. Indeed, even if both
parties were in accord that the policy qualifies as an ERISA plan, such agreement would
not suffice to confer jurisdiction in the absence of facts sufficient to support a finding to that
effect, see Mitchell v. Maurer, 293 U.S. 237, 244 (1934) (holding “lack of federal jurisdiction
cannot be waived or be overcome by an agreement of the parties”); to the extent
defendants argue they relied to their detriment on the statements made in the application
for the subject policy, any such argument is more properly raised in state court as a
defense to plaintiffs’ claims.
3. In light of the arguably conflicting statements made in the application and the
questions raised by defendants as to the legal effect thereof, the Court finds an award of
attorney’s fees is not appropriate in this instance. See Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546
U.S. 132, 141 (2005) (noting, “absent unusual circumstances,” attorney's fees should not
be awarded where removing party has “an objectively reasonable basis for seeking
For the reasons stated above:
1. Plaintiffs’ motion is hereby GRANTED, and the above-titled action is hereby
REMANDED to the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of San
2. Plaintiffs’ request for an award of attorney’s fees and costs is hereby DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: July 22, 2014
MAXINE M. CHESNEY
United States District Judge
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