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Breach of Fiduciary Duty claim against national bank denied in Motion to Dismiss

Gentry Locke for the Defendant

United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

We represented a large national bank in a long-term disability (LTD) claim arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The plaintiff was a bank employee until she ended her employment due to physical disabilities. She was paid LTD benefits until the results of an independent medical examination revealed that her current symptoms no longer supported a finding of total disability. Accordingly, her LTD benefits were terminated.

The plaintiff brought a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA against the bank in addition to a more traditional claim for allegedly improperly denied LTD benefits.

Gentry Locke attorneys asserted that in Count II of the complaint, the former employee was improperly characterizing a denial of benefits as a breach of fiduciary duty. In requesting identical relief from two different sections of the ERISA statute, she was in attempting to “repackage” a denial of benefits claim into an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claim against our client. The Court agreed and granted our motion to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty claim (Count II), holding that the plaintiff’s exclusive remedy, if any, was a claim for allegedly improperly denied LTD benefits (Count I).  Read the Court’s Opinion (PDF)

Status of the case:

Motion to dismiss Count II granted; the case was subsequently settled at mediation.

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