HOEKE v. COMPANION LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
ORDER granting 11 Motion to Strike. For the reasons set forth in the attached document, the Court hereby strikes Plaintiff's jury demand. Signed by Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon on 10/17/2011. (rtt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CONNIE B. HOEKE,
COMPANION LIFE INSURANCE
Civil Action No. 11-1002
Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon1
Pending before the Court is Defendant Companion Life Insurance Company’s Motion to
Strike Plaintiff’s Jury Demand (Doc. 11). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant
Plaintiff initially brought this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania, seeking payment for medical bills and wages allegedly due under a long term
disability policy administered by Defendant. See Compl. (Doc. 1-1). Defendant removed this
action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction because Plaintiff’s claim is
preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq.
(“ERISA”), and on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. See Notice of Removal (Doc. 1).
Plaintiff’s action is an action “by a participant or beneficiary . . . to recover benefits due
to him under the terms of his plan” under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). It
is well-established that a litigant in such a case is not entitled to a jury trial, because such actions
are equitable actions analogous to actions for breach of trust. Pane v. RCA Corp., 868 F.2d 631,
636 (3d Cir. 1989); Turner v. CF&I Steel Corp., 770 F.2d 43, 46-47 (3d Cir. 1985); see also
By consent of the parties, the undersigned sits as the District Judge in this case. See Consent
forms (Docs. 7, 9).
DeLong v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 232 F. App’x 190, 193 n.3 (3d Cir. 2007) (noting that claim for
denial of disability benefits under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) is “an equitable cause of action for
which there is no right to a jury trial”).
The Supreme Court cases cited by Plaintiff do not alter this conclusion. Both Great-West
Life & Annuity Insurance Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002), and Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic
Medical Services, Inc., 547 U.S. 356 (2006), address whether ERISA § 502(a)(3), 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132(a)(3), permits an action by an insurance plan administrator to recover payments due from
a plan beneficiary. The instant case involves a different subsection of ERISA in the context of a
beneficiary suing a plan administrator to recover benefits allegedly due under the plan. Both
Knudson and Sereboff, therefore, are inapposite.
For the reasons stated above, the Court hereby ORDERS that Defendant’s Motion to
Strike Plaintiff’s Jury Demand (Doc. 11) is GRANTED. The Court hereby strikes Plaintiff’s
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Cathy Bissoon
U.S. Magistrate Judge
October 17, 2011
cc (via e-mail):
All counsel of record.
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?