United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United States District Judge
the Court is United Jewish Federation of Tidewater's
("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Having reviewed the
parties' filings, the Court finds that a hearing is not
necessary. For the reasons set forth below, this case is
REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the City
of Virginia Beach, Virginia. As such, Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss is MOOT.
BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Hecht ("Plaintiff) and Defendant are citizens of
Virginia. ECF No. 1-1 at 2. The parties executed a Consulting
Agreement with Defendant whereby the parties contracted for
the provision of Plaintiff s services on November 23, 2011.
Id. at 15-16. Defendant classified Plaintiff as an
independent contractor per the Consulting Agreement.
Id. Plaintiff received no Defendant Employee
Benefits during this period of employment. Id. at 5.
However, the Virginia Employment Commission separately
classified Plaintiff as an employee in 2013 and 2015 audits.
Id. at 6. However, Defendant did not inform
Plaintiff of the results of the audits. Id. at 6.
Defendant terminated Plaintiffs independent contractor
relationship on April 28, 2017. Id. at 7. Defendant
then filed for unemployment compensation with Defendant,
which it denied because he was an independent contractor, not
an employee. Id. During these proceedings, Defendant
first learned about the Virginia Employment Commission's
2013 and 2015 audits. Id.
13, 2018, Plaintiff filed a six count Complaint against
Defendant in the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach,
Virginia and alleged that he was denied benefits because he
was miscategorized as an independent contractor rather than
an employee. Id. at 8. According to Plaintiff,
Defendant misrepresented Plaintiffs status as an independent
contractor so that Defendant would not have to provide
Plaintiff with employee benefits, including health, life, and
disability insurance. Id. at 5. Plaintiff brings
claims for breach of contract (Count II), unjust enrichment
(Count III), actual fraud (Count IV), constructive fraud
(Count V), and statutory claim under the Virginia
Unemployment Compensation Act, Va. Code. § 60.2-100,
et seq. ("VUCA") (Count VI). ECF No. 1-1
at 8-13. Defendant also sought a declaratory judgment (Count
I) but then later voluntarily dismissed this count. ECF No.
12 at 9.
removed this action to this Court on federal question
jurisdiction grounds on October 8, 2018. ECF No. 1 at 3. On
October 10, 2018, Defendant moved to dismiss the remaining
five counts of Plaintiff s Complaint pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). ECF Nos. 5-6. Plaintiff filed a corrected response
on November 2, 2018. ECF No. 11. Defendant replied on
November 7, 2018. ECF No. 12. The Court allowed Plaintiff to
file a sur-reply on December 14, 2018. ECF No. 13. Plaintiff
filed its sur-reply on January 5, 2019. ECF No. 15. Defendant
argues that Counts II, III, IV, and V are (1) completely
preempted under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 ("ERISA"); (2) barred by ERISA's
statute of limitations; (3) barred due to failure to exhaust
administrative remedies; and (4) barred by Virginia's
statute of limitations. See ECF No. 6 at 4-13; ECF
No. 12 at 5-7. Defendant also argues that Count VI is barred
due to failure to allege sufficient facts. ECF No. 6 at
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of
actions that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. The United States Supreme Court has stated that in
order "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Specifically, "[a] claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw trie reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. at 678. Moreover, at the motion to dismiss
stage, the court is bound to accept all of the factual
allegations in the complaint as true. Id. However,
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Id. Assessing the claim is a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Id. at 679.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
cannot consider "matters outside the pleadings"
without converting the motion to a summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Nonetheless, the Court may still
"consider documents attached to the complaint, ... as
well as those attached to the motion to dismiss, so long as
they are integral to the complaint and authentic."
Sec'y of State for Defence v. Trimble Navigation
Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c); Bassett v. NCAA,
528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008) ("When a court is
presented with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it may consider the
Complaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records,
items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits
attached to defendant's motion to dismiss so long as they
are referred to in the Complaint and are central to the
claims contained therein.").
comprehensively regulates, among other things, employee
welfare benefit plans that, 'through the purchase of
insurance or otherwise,' provide medical, surgical, or
hospital care, or benefits in the event of sickness,
accident, disability, or death." Pilot Life Ins. Co.
v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 44 (1987) (citing 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(1)). Congress designed ERISA to ultimately
"protect ... the interests of participants in employee
benefit plans and their beneficiaries" by establishing a
set of regulatory requirements that "provid[e] for
appropriate remedies, sanctions, and ready access to the
Federal courts." 29 U.S.C. § 1001(b). Furthermore,
ERISA maintains distinct preemption provisions over state law
that ensure that employee benefit plan regulation is
"exclusively a federal concern." Alessi v.
Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 451 U.S. 504, 523 (1981);
see 29 U.S.C. § 1144. ERISA completely preempts
any state law claim or remedy based on any wrongful
withholding of benefits promised under an employee benefit
plan. See Aetna Health, Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S.
200, 220 (2004).
completely preempts any state law claim or remedy based on
wrongful withholding of benefits promised under an employee
benefit plan. See, e.g., Aetna Health, Inc. v.
Davila,542 U.S. 200, 220 (2004). The United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ("Fourth
Circuit") has recognized three elements for complete
preemption: (1) Plaintiff must have standing under §
502(a); (2) Plaintiffs claims must be within the scope of
§ 5O2(a)[, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a), known as the civil
enforcement provision, ]; and (3) Plaintiffs claims
"must not be capable of resolution 'without an
interpretation of the contract governed by federal law,'
i.e., an ERISA-governed employee benefit plan."
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