Cangelosi v. New York Life Insurance Company et al
ORDER granting 26 to Compel Answers to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents against John Hancock Financial. Signed by Magistrate Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr. on 9/15/2016. (LLH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
PAUL M. CANGELOSI
NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE
COMPANY, ET AL.
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories and Requests
for Production of Documents Against John Hancock Financial (R. Doc. 26). The Motion is
opposed. (R. Doc. 29). Plaintiff has filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 52).
On May 21, 2015, Paul M. Cangelosi (“Plaintiff”) initiated this diversity action naming
as defendants New York Life Insurance Company (“New York Life”); New York Life
Investment Management, LLC (“NYLIM”); NYLIFE Securities, LLC (“NYLIFE”); Peter M.
Kirkfield; John Hancock Financial; and John Hancock Retirement Plan Services, LLC
(collectively, “Defendants”). (R. Doc. 1).
Plaintiff asserts that he was hired as an agent for defendant New York Life in 2003, and
formerly worked for Head and Enquist, now H&E Equipment Services, Inc. (“H&E”). (R. Doc.
21, “Am. Compl.” ¶¶ 14, 17). Plaintiff alleges that after he was hired by New York Life, he
obtained a securities license so that he could solicit clients and broker products for his employer
and was encouraged by the company to do so. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15). Plaintiff alleges that he
worked as a “team member” with his employer’s subsidiary, defendant NYLIM, in
recommending a retirement plan to his former employer H&E. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 19-20). H&E
accepted the plan on or around December 15, 2004. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21).
Plaintiff claims that he received compensation for his involvement in the plan until May
21, 2014, when defendant Peter Kirkfield, Director-Relationship Manager for NYLIMRetirement Plan Services, lowered the administrative costs for the plan by effectively eliminating
Plaintiff’s annual compensation of approximately $80,000. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24-31). Plaintiff
further alleges that he is a “registered representative” with NYLIFE, he is entitled to
compensation as a result of sales of registered products, and that NYLIM has continued to use
his securities license without compensating him. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-33).
Plaintiff alleges that on April of 2015, defendant John Hancock Financial acquired
divisions of NYLIM, combined those divisions with another entity to form defendant John
Hancock Retirement Plan Services, LLC, making either or both of the John Hancock entities
successor to the liabilities of NYLIM. (Am. Compl. ¶ 34).
Plaintiff brings causes of action for breach of contract (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 36-44); tortious
interference with contract and business relations (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 45-48); and breach of fiduciary
duty (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49-51). He seeks recovery of lost compensation and other damages. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 52-53).
On October 14, 2015, Plaintiff served Interrogatories and Requests for Production of
Documents on John Hancock Financial. (R. Doc. 26-2).
On January 8, 2016, after receiving certain extensions from Plaintiff, John Hancock
Financial responded as follows: “There is no legal entity known as John Hancock Financial. As
such, there is no legal entity to respond to the First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for
Production of Documents Propounded by Paul M. Cangelosi.” (R. Docs. 26-3).
On April 6, 2016, after other communications between his counsel and defense counsel,
Plaintiff filed the instant motion to compel requesting the Court to order responses to the
outstanding discovery requests. (R. Doc. 26).
Law and Analysis
John Hancock Financial’s sole argument for refusing to provide discovery responses is
defense counsel’s assertion that “there is no legal entity known as John Hancock Financial.” (R.
Doc. 29 at 1). John Hancock Financial asserts that it “will file an Amended Answer in these
proceedings setting forth” that it is not a legal entity. (R. Doc. 29 at 1).
Defense counsel waived service of the summons on behalf of John Hancock Financial.
(R. Doc. 5). Defense counsel submitted an Answer on behalf of “John Hancock Financial” in
which that entity admitted “that it is a foreign entity and that its address is 601 Congress Street,
Boston, MA 02210.” (R. Doc. 10 at 2). That pleading was signed and submitted pursuant to
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
As of the date of this Order, John Hancock Financial has not filed a pleading responsive
to Plaintiff’s original Complaint on July 21, 2015. (R. Doc. 10).
Despite its assertion that it is a non-entity, John Hancock Financial is represented by
counsel who has filed an Answer on behalf of that alleged non-entity. Accordingly, the Court
will require John Hancock Financial to participate in discovery “unless and until it is dismissed
as a party” in this action. See Equity Indus. A-Rockville LLC v. 7900 Rockville, LLC, No. 090621, 2010 WL 1737915, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Apr. 27, 2010). To do otherwise would essentially
dismiss a party in this matter in the context of a discovery dispute. The Court takes no position
as to whether the entity actually exists, and notes that this type of issue is almost always resolved
through communications between competent and professional counsel. The Court urges the
parties to make such an attempt here. Further nonparticipation in discovery by the alleged nonentity John Hancock Financial may subject the entity that appeared in this action purporting to be
John Hancock Financial to a default judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A).
In light of the foregoing,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (R. Doc. 26) is GRANTED. John
Hancock Financial and/or the entity appearing in this action as John Hancock Financial shall
respond to Plaintiff’s discovery requests within 14 days of the date of this Order or risk any
appropriate sanctions to the extent they are appropriate and/or enforceable.
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 15, 2016.
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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