79 F.3d 647 (7th Cir. 1996), 95-2808, Lindemann v. Mobil Oil Corp.

Docket Nº:95-2808.
Citation:79 F.3d 647
Party Name:Diane L. LINDEMANN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MOBIL OIL CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:March 27, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 647

79 F.3d 647 (7th Cir. 1996)

Diane L. LINDEMANN, Plaintiff-Appellant,


MOBIL OIL CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 95-2808.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 27, 1996

Argued Feb. 16, 1996.

Rehearing Denied April 12, 1996.

Page 648

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 94 C 5052, Ruben Castillo, Judge.

Frank p. Tighe, III (argued), Oak Brook, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Jeffrey M. Cross, Patrick J. Ahern (argued), Stephen A. Wood, Kelley, Drye & Warren, Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, CUMMINGS and BAUER, Circuit Judges.

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

This case involves the question whether a district court abused its discretion by requiring a plaintiff to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to filing a federal lawsuit alleging a violation of the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1140. We hold that the decision was not an abuse of discretion and therefore affirm.


At the time of her termination, Diane Lindemann had been employed by Mobil Oil Corporation ("Mobil") for roughly seventeen years. She had taken twenty-six "sick days" in the two years prior to her termination and was compensated for each under Mobil's employee benefits plan. On the morning of May 31, 1994, Lindemann called her supervisor to request that she be allowed to miss work that day. It is disputed whether she asked for a "sick day" or just for "the day off," but in any event the request was denied and she did not show up for work that day or

Page 649

the next. As a result, her employment was terminated by a letter dated June 6, 1994. The letter stated that she was "unable to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of [her] job" because of her failure to be at work regularly and on time.

On June 27, 1994, Lindemann filed a claim for benefits with Mobil in the following letter:

I feel I am entitled to severance pay with Mobil Oil Corp. With 17 years of dedicated service and always rated FP on performance appraisals, I have been under 2 doctors care and because I called in sick to my Supervisor on May 31 & June 1 which was beyond my control to avoid, my supervisor J. Lieb when I reported to work on June 2 & June 3 refused to talk to me and on June 6th terminated my employment with Mobil Oil. I asked to talk to an E.R. advisor but was refused a phone call & told me to call from home. I called Bob Harrop, E.R. advisor when I got home and asked him questions and he said he would call me back but never did. Please look into the situation and advice [sic] me.

On August 12, 1994, Mr. Harrop wrote to Lindemann to inform her that he had reviewed...

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