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Simons v. Cenveo Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 22, 2017

JOYCE SIMONS, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment (Dkt. Nos. 36, 37). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS Defendant Cenveo Corporation's motion and DENIES Plaintiff Joyce Simons's motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ronald Simons, Plaintiff's husband, was initially hired by Defendant on December 10, 2001, as a regular, full-time employee. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 56, 58.) On April 30, 2010, Mr. Simons retired and his company-provided basic life insurance terminated. (Id. at 47-49, 66-67.) However, on May 7, 2014, Defendant offered Mr. Simons a part-time Premium Maintenance position. (Dkt. No. 38-2 at 2.) Effective May 13, 2014, Mr. Simons was re-hired to work 30 hours per week or less and was “[b]enefits ineligible.” (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 36.) Mr. Simons's last day of work was June 30, 2014. (Id. at 9, 33.) Mr. Simons went on an unpaid non-Family and Medical Leave Act leave of absence from July 1 until July 24, 2014, (id. at 9-11), and passed away on July 24, 2014, (id. at 74). It is undisputed that between May 13, 2014, and July 24, 2014, Mr. Simons never worked more than 25 hours per week. (Id. at 1-12, 69.)

         On September 16, 2014, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant, indicating that she had received a Benefits Enrollment Confirmation letter on June 30, 2014. (Id. at 69.) The Benefits Enrollment Confirmation stated, “This statement confirms your selected benefit options through the 2014 plan year.” (Id. at 72.) The letter indicated that Mr. Simons had selected the “Basic Life/AD&D” plan (the Plan), effective July 1, 2014. (Id.)

         Under the Plan, eligible employees were entitled to basic life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance. (Dkt. No. 36-1.) An “employee” is defined by the Plan as

an active employee residing in the United States who is employed by [Defendant] and is regularly scheduled to work on at least a 35-hour-per-week-basis. Such employees of companies and affiliates controlled by [Defendant] are included. Temporary and seasonal employees are excluded.

(Id. at 17) (emphasis added). The Plan also sets forth a “Schedule of Benefits” for hourly employees, with the lowest number of hours worked listed as 35 hours per week. (Id. at 4.)

         In response to Plaintiff's claim to benefits under the Plan, Defendant determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to life insurance benefits because Mr. Simons worked less than 35 hours per week. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 84, 112.) As such, Defendant denied Plaintiff's claim for coverage under the Plan. (Id.)

         Plaintiff brought this action in Pierce County Superior Court, (Dkt. No. 1-1), and Defendant removed the action to this Court, (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated § 1132(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq., by denying Plaintiff life insurance benefits. (Dkt. No. 15.) Both parties filed motions for summary judgment.[1] (Dkt. Nos. 36, 37.)


         A. Standards of Review

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In making such a determination, the Court must view the facts and justifiable inferences to be drawn there-from in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party “must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. Conclusory, non-specific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and “missing facts” will not be “presumed.” Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990). Ultimately, summary judgment is appropriate against a party who “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).

         Where parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, “[e]ach motion must be considered on its own merits.” Fair Hous. Council of Riverside Cnty., Inc. v. Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1135-36 (9th Cir. 2001). However, in this case, the arguments set forth in the parties' summary judgment motions are the same as those set forth in their responses to ...

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