Guinn v. General Motors Corporation et al
Order. Plaintiff's Motion for Clarification and/or Reconsideration of the Court's Order Dated November 6, 2017 (Related doc # 28 ) is denied. Judge Christopher A. Boyko on 12/6/2017.(H,CM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
JAMES E. GUINN,
GENERAL MOTORS LLC, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:17CV197
JUDGE CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, J.:
This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion (ECF DKT #28) of Plaintiff,
James E. Guinn, for Clarification and/or Reconsideration of the Court’s Order Dated
November 6, 2017. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.
On January 31, 2017, Plaintiff brought this action for recovery of life insurance
benefits pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). Plaintiff’s
Second Amended Complaint (ECF DKT #14), naming General Motors LLC, General Motors
Life and Disability Benefits Program for Hourly Employees, Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company (“MetLife”) and Rashad A. Saleem, was filed on July 5, 2017.
Plaintiff alleges that MetLife denied his claim for his deceased aunt’s Group Life
Insurance Benefits under a General Motors ERISA Plan insured by a group policy issued by
MetLife, who also served as Claims Administrator for the Plan. MetLife denied Plaintiff’s
claim because it determined that Plaintiff was not Julia Adams a/k/a Julia Tolliver’s last valid
At the September 19, 2017 telephonic Case Management Conference, the Court set a
briefing schedule for the parties’ positions on discovery and supplementing the administrative
record. Instead, on November 1, 2017, the parties submitted their Case Management
Stipulated Order (ECF DKT #26). The parties agreed to dismiss the General Motors
Defendants with prejudice and further stipulated as follows:
1. No discovery will be permitted or conducted.
2. Defendant MetLife will file the Administrative Record on or before November 20,
3. Plaintiff may supplement the Administrative Record with affidavits from
Plaintiff and the Decedent’s Guardian.
4. Plaintiff will file his Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record, which
will move the Court to determine and declare that Plaintiff is entitled to the life
insurance benefits payable under the Program as a result of the death of Julie
Adams a/k/a Julia Tolliver, on or before December 18, 2017.
5. MetLife will take no position on Plaintiff’s Motion for Judgment on the
6. The Court will decide Plaintiff’s motion and claim for benefits de novo.
7. Plaintiff will not seek attorneys’ fees from MetLife in the event that the Court finds
in Plaintiff’s favor on his Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record and
awards benefits to Plaintiff.
On November 6, 2017, the Court dismissed the General Motors Defendants with
prejudice and adopted and entered the enumerated Stipulations, with one proviso as to Item
#3. The Court cited Wilkins v. Baptist Healthcare Sys., Inc., 150 F.3d 609, 619 (6th Cir.
1998) and stated that it would consider the proposed outside evidence only if that evidence is
offered in support of a procedural challenge to the Administrator’s decision, such as an
alleged lack of due process or alleged bias.
Following that, Plaintiff filed the instant request for clarification and/or
reconsideration. Plaintiff argues that a claimant is permitted to supplement the administrative
record as a remedy for an administrator’s violation of ERISA’s procedural requirements.
Further, Plaintiff suggests: “The Court’s ruling defeats the purpose of Stipulations and
imposes needless time and expense because it will require plaintiff and MetLife to engage in
litigation to decide whether plaintiff is entitled to a remedy that has already been obtained
through mutual agreement and compromise.” (ECF DKT #28 at 1-2).
II. LAW AND ANALYSIS
Upon reconsideration, the Court adheres to its prior decision in this matter.
Motions for reconsideration, though frequently brought, are granted only in rare and unusual
circumstances. Gencorp, Inc. v. American Int’l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir.
1999); Plaskon Elec. Materials, Inc. v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 904 F.Supp. 644, 669 (N.D. Ohio
Although motions to reconsider are not ill-founded step-children of the federal
court’s procedural arsenal, they are extraordinary in nature and, because they
run contrary to notions of finality and repose, should be discouraged. To be
sure, a court can always take a second look at a prior decision; but it need not
and should not do so in the vast majority of instances, especially where such
motions merely restyle or re-hash the initial issues.
McConocha v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Mutual of Ohio, 930 F.Supp. 1182, 1184 (N.D.
Ohio 1996) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
The parties’ request to supplement the Administrative Record, which Plaintiff pleads
once again for the Court to adopt, runs afoul of the parties’ own agreement. The parties
stipulated that no discovery would be permitted or conducted. (ECF DKT #26, Item #1).
Yet, they seek to introduce the sworn testimony of Plaintiff and of the non-party guardian for
decedent in the form of affidavits executed (and presumably drafted) more than two months
after the Second Amended Complaint was filed, eight months after this case was originally
instituted, and more than a year after MetLife denied Plaintiff’s claim for benefits.
Moreover, the request to supplement contravenes well-settled Sixth Circuit law for
ERISA cases. The district court is “strictly limited” to the record of the administrator in its
review. Seiser v. UNUM Provident Corp., 135 F.App’x 794, 798 (6th Cir. 2005), citing
Killian v. Healthsource Provident Adm’r, Inc., 152 F.3d 514, 522 (6th Cir. 1998) (“in an
ERISA claim contesting a denial of benefits, the district court is strictly limited to a
consideration of the information actually considered by the administrator”). In Wilkins, 150
F.3d at 615, the panel found that an affidavit, dated over one month after the final decision
denying benefits, was not part of the administrative record. Likewise, this Court determines
that these supplemental affidavits offered by Plaintiff should not be part of the record before
The Court declines the invitation to reconsider and finds there is no justification for
clarification. Therefore, the Motion (ECF DKT #28) of Plaintiff, James E. Guinn, for
Clarification and/or Reconsideration of the Court’s Order Dated November 6, 2017, is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Christopher A. Boyko
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO
United States District Judge
Dated: December 6, 2017
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