Rozzell v. Security Services, Inc., No. 93-5538

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore DAVIS, JONES and DUHE; EDITH H. JONES
Citation38 F.3d 819
Parties18 Employee Benefits Cas. 2642 Richard ROZZELL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SECURITY SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants, Security Couriers Inc. and Electronic Data Services Corporation, d/b/a EDS, Defendants-Appellees. Summary Calendar.
Decision Date25 November 1994
Docket NumberNo. 93-5538

Page 819

38 F.3d 819
18 Employee Benefits Cas. 2642
Richard ROZZELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SECURITY SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants,
Security Couriers Inc. and Electronic Data Services
Corporation, d/b/a EDS, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 93-5538.
Summary Calendar.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Nov. 25, 1994.

Page 820

Frederick Andrew Pastor, Steve Colbert, Lewisville, TX, for appellant.

Karen Corallo, Sharon K. O'Roke, Office of Gen. Counsel, EDS, Bruce S. Friedman, Plano, TX, for Security Couriers and EDS.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Before DAVIS, JONES and DUHE, Circuit Judges.

EDITH H. JONES, Circuit Judge:

Richard Rozzell (Rozzell) filed suit in state court alleging that Electronic Data Systems (EDS) terminated him in retaliation for pursuing rights under Article 8307c of the Texas Workers' Compensation Act. EDS removed the case to federal court alleging the action was a claim arising under section 510 of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and therefore satisfied federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiff's motion to remand the case to district court was denied and defendant won a bench trial held on the merits. Because we conclude that removal was improper, we must vacate the judgment and remand the case to state court.

BACKGROUND

In the bench trial, the district court judge made extensive findings of fact, only a few of which are relevant to this appeal. Rozzell was hired by EDS 1 in November of 1985. Rozzell sustained an injury unrelated to work on March 11, 1990. As a result of the accident, Rozzell was unable to work until July 27, 1990. Rozzell returned to work in a limited capacity on July 30, 1990. On that date, Rozzell allegedly sustained an on the job injury preventing him from continuing further work. Shortly after the alleged injury, Rozzell filed a workers' compensation claim. Rozzell alleges that he was terminated as a result of filing such claim.

Rozzell filed a lawsuit alleging a single cause of action under section 8307c of the Texas Workers' Compensation Act. 2 EDS

Page 821

removed the action to federal court on the grounds that the complaint contained a claim implicating ERISA. Specifically, EDS asserted that because Paragraph Eight of the complaint alleged that plaintiff was wrongfully terminated "to willfully deprive plaintiff of the compensation and benefits of [his] job", plaintiff had implicated the provisions of ERISA. The district judge denied Rozzell's motion to remand based upon his findings that because determination of plaintiff's damages necessitated reference to the ERISA plan, plaintiff's claim was necessarily federal in character and that plaintiff's allegation states a claim under section 510 of ERISA. A claim that relates to an ERISA plan, as the court recognized, is removable from state court.
DISCUSSION

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), codified at 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1001 et seq. (1994 ed.), federally regulates employee benefit plans. ERISA is "a comprehensive statute designed to promote the interests of employees and their beneficiaries in employee benefit plans." Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, 463 U.S. 85, 90, 103 S.Ct. 2890, 2896, 77 L.Ed.2d 490 (1983), (citing Nachman Corp. v. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 446 U.S. 359, 361-62, 100 S.Ct. 1723, 1726, 64 L.Ed.2d 354 (1980); Alessi v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 451 U.S. 504, 510, 101 S.Ct. 1895, 1899-1900, 68 L.Ed.2d 402 (1981)). Section 514(a) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1144(a), expressly "supersedes any and all State laws insofar as they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan" covered by ERISA. This preemption clause has been interpreted to be "deliberately expansive ... to 'establish pension plan regulation as exclusively a federal concern.' " Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. McClendon, 498 U.S. 133, 138, 111 S.Ct. 478, 482, 112 L.Ed.2d 474 (1990) (citing Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 46, 107 S.Ct. 1549, 1552, 95 L.Ed.2d 39 (1987) (quoting Alessi, 451 U.S. at 523, 101 S.Ct. at 1906)).

The central preemption determination is whether the state law 3 relied upon in the well-pleaded complaint "relates to" an employee benefit plan. Ingersoll-Rand, 498 U.S. at 138, 111 S.Ct. at 482; Cefalu v. B.F. Goodrich Co., 871 F.2d 1290, 1292 (5th Cir.1989). A state law "relates to" an employee benefit plan "if it has a connection with or reference to such a plan." Shaw, 463 U.S. at 96-97, 103 S.Ct. at 2899-2900. Therefore, a state law may "relate to" an employee benefit plan even if the law is not designed to affect the plan or does so even in an indirect manner. Pilot Life, 481 U.S. at 47, 107 S.Ct. at 1552-53. Nevertheless, the reach of ERISA preemption is not limitless. See, e.g., Mackey v. Lanier Collection Agency & Serv., Inc., 486 U.S. 825, 841, 108 S.Ct. 2182, 2191-92, 100 L.Ed.2d 836 (1988) (holding that ERISA did not preempt a State's general garnishment statute, even when applied to collect judgments against plan participants);...

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63 practice notes
  • Soileau & Assocs. v. La. Health Serv. & Indem. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-710-WBV-JCW SECTION: D (2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 19 Septiembre 2019
    ...Indem. Co., 376 F.3d 420, 432 (5th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). 99. Smith, 84 F.3d at 155 (citing Rozzell v. Security Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th Cir. 1994). 100. Mayeaux, 376 F.3d at 432 (citations omitted). 101. Id. (emphasis in original). 102. Cefalu v. B.F. Goodrich Co., 871 ......
  • Gabner v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., No. 1:95-CV-927.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 27 Agosto 1996
    ...rule, the court must look beyond the words of the complaint to the substance of the claim alleged. Cf. Rozzell v. Security Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th 14 Defendants argue that Gabner, in seeking the relief of a life insurance policy that conforms to the insurers' alleged representat......
  • Ashley Healthcare Plan v. Dillard (In re Guardianship of O.D.), No. 2014–CA–00322–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 6 Agosto 2015
    ...even if its effect is only indirect." Rokohl v. Texaco, Inc., 77 F.3d 126, 129 (5th Cir.1996) (citing Rozzell v. Sec. Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 821 (5th Cir.1994) ). Nonetheless, ERISA preemption is not all-encompassing, and state actions which affect employee benefit plans in "t......
  • Mayo v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., No. H-01-2139.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • 5 Marzo 2002
    ...a plaintiff may refer to plan benefits as a measure of damages without invoking ERISA preemption. Rozzell v. Security Serv., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th Cir.1994). In order to determine whether a state law claim is preempted by ERISA, the Court must look past the words in the complaint and ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • Soileau & Assocs. v. La. Health Serv. & Indem. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-710-WBV-JCW SECTION: D (2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 19 Septiembre 2019
    ...Indem. Co., 376 F.3d 420, 432 (5th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). 99. Smith, 84 F.3d at 155 (citing Rozzell v. Security Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th Cir. 1994). 100. Mayeaux, 376 F.3d at 432 (citations omitted). 101. Id. (emphasis in original). 102. Cefalu v. B.F. Goodrich Co., 871 ......
  • Gabner v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., No. 1:95-CV-927.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 27 Agosto 1996
    ...rule, the court must look beyond the words of the complaint to the substance of the claim alleged. Cf. Rozzell v. Security Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th 14 Defendants argue that Gabner, in seeking the relief of a life insurance policy that conforms to the insurers' alleged representat......
  • Ashley Healthcare Plan v. Dillard (In re Guardianship of O.D.), No. 2014–CA–00322–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 6 Agosto 2015
    ...even if its effect is only indirect." Rokohl v. Texaco, Inc., 77 F.3d 126, 129 (5th Cir.1996) (citing Rozzell v. Sec. Servs., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 821 (5th Cir.1994) ). Nonetheless, ERISA preemption is not all-encompassing, and state actions which affect employee benefit plans in "t......
  • Mayo v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., No. H-01-2139.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • 5 Marzo 2002
    ...a plaintiff may refer to plan benefits as a measure of damages without invoking ERISA preemption. Rozzell v. Security Serv., Inc., 38 F.3d 819, 822 (5th Cir.1994). In order to determine whether a state law claim is preempted by ERISA, the Court must look past the words in the complaint and ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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