Taylor v. General Motors Corp., No. 84-1503

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore WELLFORD and MILBURN, Circuit Judges, and KINNEARY; WELLFORD
Parties7 Employee Benefits Ca 1027 Arthur TAYLOR, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date25 July 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84-1503

Page 216

763 F.2d 216
7 Employee Benefits Ca 1027
Arthur TAYLOR, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, and Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 84-1503.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued April 8, 1985.
Decided June 7, 1985.
Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied July 25, 1985.

Page 217

Dennis P. Brescoll (argued), Mount Clemens, Mich., for plaintiff-appellant.

David M. Davis (argued), Detroit, Mich., Gilbert Y. Rubenstein (argued), Rubenstein, Pruchnicki, Chittle and Smith, Flint, Mich., for defendants-appellees.

Before WELLFORD and MILBURN, Circuit Judges, and KINNEARY, District Judge *.

WELLFORD, Circuit Judge.

This action was originally filed by plaintiff, Arthur Taylor, in state court, alleging breach of contract, retaliatory discharge, and wrongful termination of disability benefits. Defendants, General Motors Corporation ("GMC") and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("Metropolitan"), thereafter sought to remove the action to federal court under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1441, asserting that plaintiff's claim for wrongful termination of benefits was in reality a claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. Secs. 1001-1461. Plaintiff moved to remand the action to state court, arguing that his claim was based solely on state law and not ERISA. The district court denied plaintiff's motion and subsequently entered judgment for defendants on the merits, 588 F.Supp. 562.

I.

Plaintiff started at GMC as a salaried employee in 1959 as a fifth level engineering analyst with the Fisher Body Division. In May 1980, following over twenty years of employment and two promotions, plaintiff began experiencing emotional problems allegedly while in the midst of a divorce and child custody dispute. He consulted with a licensed psychologist, Andrew T. Yang, Ph.D., claiming "sheer depression" and "suicidal tendencies." As a result, plaintiff took a leave of absence from work, and also notified Metropolitan, GMC's insurance carrier, that he had become totally disabled. Accompanying this notice was a statement from Dr. Yang that plaintiff was suffering from a "situational anxiety reaction" and should not return to work. In a letter from Dr. Yang to Dr. Stephen A. Evanoff, plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Yang suggested that plaintiff might be suffering back problems.

Upon receiving plaintiff's notice of disability, Metropolitan commenced paying benefits. At the same time, realizing that Dr. Yang was not a physician, Metropolitan scheduled plaintiff for a psychiatric examination to take place on June 11, 1980. Dr. Gordon Forrer, a licensed psychiatrist, examined plaintiff on this date and concluded that, as an initial matter, plaintiff was to be considered disabled. He recommended, however, that a follow-up examination be held in six weeks. After conducting this

Page 218

follow-up examination, Dr. Forrer concluded that plaintiff was not disabled and could return to work.

Plaintiff then filed a supplementary claim with Metropolitan seeking disability benefits for orthopedic reasons. Plaintiff was placed on special leave of absence without pay pending the outcome of his supplementary claim. In July 1980 plaintiff was directed by Metropolitan to go to the Detroit Industrial Clinic, where he was examined by Dr. N. Wilson. Dr. Wilson, on August 1, 1980, found no orthopedic problems with plaintiff. Later, in September 1980, upon receiving x-rays taken by Dr. Evanoff, Dr. Wilson again concluded that plaintiff suffered no orthopedic problems.

On July 30, 1980, Metropolitan ceased paying plaintiff benefits. On August 12, 1980, plaintiff was informed by GMC that it considered him not to be disabled. On October 10, 1980, Metropolitan informed plaintiff and GMC that it had reviewed the medical evidence and concluded plaintiff was not disabled. It thus refused to pay any benefits beyond July 30, 1980. On October 31, 1980, plaintiff was requested to report to the Chevrolet Central Office medical department for a medical examination. On November 5, 1980, plaintiff was examined by GMC's physician who concluded that plaintiff was able to resume his duties.

Rather than return to work as requested, plaintiff insisted that he was disabled. On November 10, 1980, plaintiff was notified by GMC that his employment had been terminated as of November 5. His status was reported as a "voluntary quit."

II.

As a basis for the removal of this case to federal court, GMC and Metropolitan rely wholly on the argument that ERISA preempts state law, and converts plaintiff's state law claim for disability benefits against Metropolitan into a claim under ERISA. The group insurance policy at issue in this case is a part of GMC's employee benefits program established under ERISA. See 29 U.S.C. 1002(1). Because the plan at issue is regulated by ERISA, and because ERISA preempts all state laws in this field, see 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1144, defendants argue that plaintiff's action in reality "arises under" federal law, and hence is subject to removal under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1441(b).

Plaintiff, on the other hand, asserts that his claim against Metropolitan is only a state law claim. He argues that the claim is based solely on state contract law as a claim for benefits due under a group insurance policy. Because the complaint fails to state a federal claim, plaintiff claims the case does not "arise under" federal law within the meaning of either 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1331 or 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1441, and could not properly be removed.

Both plaintiff's and defendants'...

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15 practice notes
  • Kilmer v. Central Counties Bank, Civ. A. No. 83-1007.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 9, 1985
    ...definite split of authority exists as some courts have taken an opposite view. See e.g., Taylor v. General Motors Corp., 623 F. Supp. 998 763 F.2d 216 (6th Cir.1985) (removal of action alleging state claims was improper despite contention that ERISA governed plan); Lederman v. Pacific Mutua......
  • Board of Trustees of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25 v. Madison Hotel, Inc., No. 95-7216
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 15, 1996
    ...on the basis that the state law claims were subject to the federal defense of ERISA preemption. Taylor v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 763 F.2d 216 (6th The Supreme Court reversed. The Court explained that an exception to the usual application of the well-pleaded complaint rule arises when C......
  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Taylor General Motors Corporation v. Taylor, Nos. 85-686
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 6, 1987
    ...of federal courts' removal jurisdiction is not the "obviousness" of the pre-emption defense but the intent of Congress. Pp. 63-67. 763 F.2d 216 (CA6 1985), reversed. O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., jo......
  • Trogner v. New York Life Ins. Co., Civ. No. Y-85-4106.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 17, 1986
    ...See Cate v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama, 434 F.Supp. 1187 (E.D.Tenn.1977) (J. Young). See also Taylor v. General Motors Corp., 763 F.2d 216, 219 (6th Cir.1985) (not established that all actions for benefits allegedly due under a group insurance policy arise under federal law simply ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Kilmer v. Central Counties Bank, Civ. A. No. 83-1007.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 9, 1985
    ...definite split of authority exists as some courts have taken an opposite view. See e.g., Taylor v. General Motors Corp., 623 F. Supp. 998 763 F.2d 216 (6th Cir.1985) (removal of action alleging state claims was improper despite contention that ERISA governed plan); Lederman v. Pacific Mutua......
  • Board of Trustees of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25 v. Madison Hotel, Inc., No. 95-7216
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 15, 1996
    ...on the basis that the state law claims were subject to the federal defense of ERISA preemption. Taylor v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 763 F.2d 216 (6th The Supreme Court reversed. The Court explained that an exception to the usual application of the well-pleaded complaint rule arises when C......
  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Taylor General Motors Corporation v. Taylor, Nos. 85-686
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 6, 1987
    ...of federal courts' removal jurisdiction is not the "obviousness" of the pre-emption defense but the intent of Congress. Pp. 63-67. 763 F.2d 216 (CA6 1985), reversed. O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., jo......
  • Trogner v. New York Life Ins. Co., Civ. No. Y-85-4106.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 17, 1986
    ...See Cate v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama, 434 F.Supp. 1187 (E.D.Tenn.1977) (J. Young). See also Taylor v. General Motors Corp., 763 F.2d 216, 219 (6th Cir.1985) (not established that all actions for benefits allegedly due under a group insurance policy arise under federal law simply ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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