Eichenberger v. Cardinal Health, Inc.
OPINION AND ORDER denying 6 Motion for TRO. Signed by Judge James L. Graham on 3/31/2017. (ds)(This document has been sent by regular mail to the party(ies) listed in the NEF that did not receive electronic notification.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Raymond L. Eichenberger,
Case No. 2:17-cv-113
Cardinal Health, Inc.,
Opinion and Order
Plaintiff Raymond L. Eichenberger, proceeding pro se, brings this action against defendant
Cardinal Health, Inc. Eichenberger alleges that defendant wrongfully terminated the dependent
health insurance coverage he received as the spouse of a Cardinal employee. This suit was originally
filed in state court and was removed by Cardinal to this court on the grounds that the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., governs plaintiff’s claim.
This matter is before the court on plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order,
which the court denies for the reasons stated below.
Eichenberger was married to Maxine Irvine, who has been employed by Cardinal since 2009.
Eichenberger was covered on the family health insurance policy that Irvin obtained through
Cardinal at the beginning of 2016.
Irvin filed for divorce in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in late 2014. On
September 7, 2016, the state court issued a decree of divorce that, among other things discussed
below, terminated the marriage. (Doc. 13-2).
The Cardinal Plan provided that divorce is an event which constitutes a qualified change in
status, allowing the participant to make a new election. (Doc. 13-1 at § 4.5(A)). On September 13,
2016, Irvin notified Cardinal of the termination of her marriage and Eichenberger’s coverage was
immediately terminated. (Doc. 13-3 at ¶ 2).
On October 5, 2016, Cardinal issued a COBRA notice to Eichenberger, informing him of
his right to continue coverage for up to 36 months. (Doc. 13-4). He responded by letter on
November 3, 2016 stating that he would not be electing COBRA coverage.
Eichenberger asserted in the letter that the divorce decree had been stayed and alleged that the effect
of the stay was that “I am not legally divorced from Maxine.” (Id.). Eichenberger, who is an
attorney, 1 warned Cardinal’s representative that “unless you are an attorney, you have no
qualifications to be construing these court Orders.” (Id.).
Eichenberger had in fact appealed the state court’s September 7, 2016 order. But that order
was not a run-of-the-mill decree granting a divorce. The order recited at length the misconduct in
which Eichenberger had engaged during the course of the divorce proceeding. The court found that
Eichenberger had: “engaged in fraudulent disposition of marital assets”; “blatantly refused to
provide full discovery” regarding his income, business records and bank accounts “despite multiple
Court Orders to do so”; “behav[ed] in a manner that is overtly hostile and combative”; “prevented
the Court from making a clear, reasoned, and accurate determination of the parties’ marital assets”;
engaged in “frivolous behavior” throughout the course of the litigation; exhibited a “flagrant
disregard” for the authority of the court; and had such a lack of candor that it reflected “his disdain
for the profession.” (Doc. 13-2 at PAGEID#160, 166, 168, 178). As a result, the court held that it
would be inequitable to award Eichenberger his dower interest in certain marital property, and it
ordered him to pay his wife’s attorney’s fees and held him in contempt and imposed a sentence of
three days incarceration.
On November 2, 2016 the state court issued a stay order that restrained the parties from
encumbering or transferring their assets pending appeal. (Doc. 13-7). The stay order did not
contain any language vacating, reversing or staying the termination of the marriage. Nor did the stay
order (or the September 7 order) make any mention of entitlement to health insurance coverage or
benefits. The appeal remains pending.
On November 22, 2016, Cardinal sent a letter to Eichenberger stating that it would not
reinstate his coverage unless he provided “documentation to confirm that the date of the divorce
has been postponed.” (Doc. 13-6). The letter further stated that “[i]n the meantime, you have the
The letter was written on Eichenberger’s letterhead, which identified him as an “Attorney at Law”
and included his business address, phone number and internet address. The court takes judicial
notice that five months before he wrote the letter, the Ohio Supreme Court had suspended
Eichenberger from the practice of law for two years for commingling personal and client funds in
his client trust accounts, failing to respond to demands for information by the Disciplinary Counsel
and making material misrepresentations to the Disciplinary Counsel in an attempt to conceal
irregularities in his client trust accounts. See Disciplinary Counsel v. Eichenberger, 146 Ohio St.3d
right to submit claims under the Plan. If any claims are denied due to the termination of your
coverage, you have the right to appeal the denial . . . .” (Id.).
After receiving the November 22, 2016 letter, Eichenberger did not submit any claims for
medical services received between September 7 and December 31, 2016. (Doc. 13-3 at ¶ 7).
Standard of Review
Temporary restraining orders are authorized under Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. They are extraordinary remedies governed by the following considerations: (1) whether
the movant has a strong likelihood of success on the merits, (2) whether the movant would suffer
irreparable injury absent an injunction, (3) whether issuance of the injunction would cause
substantial harm to others, and (4) whether the public interest would be served by granting the
requested injunction. Ohio Republican Party v. Brunner, 543 F.3d 357, 361 (6th Cir. 2008); see also
Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).
“Although no one factor is controlling, a finding that there is simply no likelihood of success
on the merits is usually fatal.” Gonzales v. Nat’l Bd. of Med. Examiners, 225 F.3d 620, 625 (6th Cir.
2000); accord Jolivette v. Husted, 694 F.3d 760, 765 (6th Cir. 2012).
In his motion for a temporary restraining order, 2 plaintiff seeks an order requiring Cardinal
to reinstate his health insurance coverage. The court finds that plaintiff has not demonstrated a
strong likelihood of success on the merits. Plaintiff’s claim hinges entirely on his assertion that the
termination of his marriage was somehow vacated or stayed by the state court’s stay order of
November 2, 2016. The stay order says nothing of the sort, nor is there any evidence that plaintiff’s
appeal seeks a reversal of the termination of the marriage. The stay order merely restrains the
parties’ ability to distribute their assets and prevents them from dissipating the value of the marital
estate. The stay order did not change the marital status of the parties. The statement in plaintiff’s
affidavit that “the Stay of the Divorce Decree of November 2, 2016, had the legal effect that the
Plaintiff and Maxine Irvin were not divorced, but were still legally recognized as husband and wife”
(Doc. 6 at ¶ 9) is not a true statement or plausible interpretation of the stay order.
The motion does not contain a request for a hearing. Attached to the motion is plaintiff’s
affidavit. The memorandum in support of the motion is scarcely one page long and contains no
discussion of the four factors that courts consider in evaluating a motion for preliminary relief.
Cardinal, in contrast, has demonstrated that it has a strong likelihood of success in defending
against plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff’s marriage to Irvin was terminated by court order on September 7,
2016. Irvin timely notified Cardinal under the Plan that the divorce constituted a qualified change in
status, and plaintiff’s dependent coverage was accordingly terminated. In compliance with federal
law, see 26 U.S.C. § 4980B, 29 U.S.C. § 1161, and with the Plan, Cardinal provided to plaintiff notice
of his right to enroll in COBRA coverage, which he declined. Cardinal therefore extended to
plaintiff the only coverage to which plaintiff had a right to elect to receive.
Further, the court finds that plaintiff has not demonstrated that he will suffer irreparable
injury absent emergency relief. Even if plaintiff is correct that he was entitled to remain as a covered
dependent because the state court stayed the termination of marriage, such an entitlement would be
valid only for the duration of the 2016 Plan year. (Doc. 13-1 at § 2.51 (defining a “Plan Year” as
lasting from January 1 to December 31)). It is uncontroverted that Irvin did not enroll or attempt to
enroll plaintiff as a dependent when she elected her health insurance coverage for 2017. Thus, at
most, any alleged improper denial of benefits by Cardinal occurred during a three month period that
ended on December 31, 2016, and plaintiff’s alleged injuries can be redressed through an award of
monetary damages. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) (providing a private cause of action under ERISA
to recover benefits due under the terms of the plan).
Accordingly, plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. 6) is DENIED.
s/ James L. Graham
JAMES L. GRAHAM
United States District Judge
DATE: March 31, 2017
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?