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Estate of Coggins v. Wapato Point Management Company Health and Welfare Plan

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

May 23, 2014

THE ESTATE OF ORBIE COGGINS, deceased, by and through GAIL COGGINS BROOKS and DUANE COGGINS, as Personal Representatives, Plaintiffs,
v.
WAPATO POINT MANAGEMENT COMPANY HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN; WAPATO POINT MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC., as Plan Administrator, Defendants

For Gail Coggins Brooks, as Personal Representative for The Estate of Orbie Coggins, Duane Coggins, as Personal Representative for The Estate of Orbie Coggins, Estate of Orbie Coggins, Deceased, Plaintiffs: Scott Michael Kane, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lacy Kane, PS, East Wenatchee, WA.

For Wapato Point Management Company Health and Welfare Plan, Wapato Point Management Company Inc, as Plan Administrator, Defendants, ThirdParty Plaintiffs: Judd Hudson Lees, Randy Jarl Aliment, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Williams Kastner & Gibbs - SEA, Seattle, WA.

OPINION

ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON, Chief United States District Judge.

Page 1153

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment brought by Defendants Wapato Point Management Health and Welfare Plan and Wapato Point Management Company, Inc. (collectively, " Defendants" ). ECF No. 17. The Court has reviewed the briefing and all related documents. The Court is fully informed.

BACKGROUND

The Estate of Orbie Coggins (" Plaintiff" ) alleges that Defendants breached their fiduciary duties by failing to notify Mr. Coggins of the termination of his life insurance benefits coverage. ECF No. 2-1 at 11. Mr. Coggins participated in a Company Health and Welfare Plan (" Company Plan" ) that included life insurance coverage of two times an employee's annual salary. ECF No. 16 at 2. On or about May 1, 2009, Mr. Coggins's union and Defendant Wapato Point Company reached a Collective Bargaining Agreement (" CBA" ) that required employees to participate in the Northwest Laborers-Employees Health and Security Trust Fund (" Union Plan" ). ECF Nos. 16 at 4; 16-6 at 31-32.

Page 1154

Defendants state that life insurance benefits under the Union Plan were limited to $5,000. ECF No. 3 at 6. Plaintiff claims, however, that Mr. Coggins received a 2010 benefits statement from Defendant Wapato Point Company indicating that he was still paying into the Company Plan for life insurance. ECF Nos. 22 at 15; 20-2.

Mr. Coggins died on December 16, 2011, and the beneficiaries of his estate sought his life insurance benefits under the Company Plan. ECF Nos. 2-1 at 10; 16 at 5. The life insurance provider indicated that Defendant Wapato Point Company had terminated coverage on May 31, 2009. ECF No. 2-1 at 10, see also ECF No. 16 at 5. The union filed a grievance, which was subject to mediation and resulted in a settlement check for Plaintiff in the amount of $10,000. ECF No. 16 at 5, 7. The parties also agreed that union-represented employees would be re-enrolled in the Company Plan's life insurance. ECF No. 16 at 7. The agreement purports to resolve all claims regarding the " payment of benefits to any deceased employee based on an alleged failure to maintain life insurance benefits." ECF No. 16-11 at 44.

In this case, Plaintiff claims that Defendants breached their fiduciary duties by failing to provide complete and accurate information regarding the status and termination of Mr. Coggins's insurance coverage. ECF No. 2-1 at 11. The action was removed to this Court from Chelan County Superior Court based on federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ECF No. 1 at 2.

ANALYSIS

Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A " material" fact is one that is relevant to an element of a claim or defense and whose existence might affect the outcome of the suit. T.W. Elec. Serv. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine ...


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