Tomczak v. Stripes, LLC, et al., No. 1:19-CV-19524-NLH-JS, 2021 WL 567967 (D.N.J. Feb. 12, 2021)

District Court dismisses claim for insurance benefits against employer, finding it was the plan administrator, not the employer, who made the benefits determination.

This matter arises from the plaintiff’s claim under Section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), seeking to recover insurance allegedly owed. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The defendants argued summary judgment was appropriate because it was the plaintiff’s claims adjuster, not the defendants as the employer, who made the ultimate decision with respect to the plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits. The defendants argued their role was limited to supplying information with respect to when the plaintiff’s employment ended. The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, reasoning that they are not properly named in this action. The court noted that, in an ERISA action, “[t]he proper defendant …is either ‘the plan itself (or plan administrators in their official capacities only).’” As such, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s action “fails to demonstrate defendants had control over the determination of whether plaintiff was owed disability benefits.”


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