Mandell Menkes wins Motion to Dismiss on behalf of major insurer

A federal magistrate entered judgment in favor of  Mandell Menkes client Metropolitan Life Insurance Company after granting a motion to dismiss all counts of an amended cross claim. Sharp Electronics Corporation filed the amended cross claim against MetLife in connection with underlying ERISA disability benefits litigation.  In the amended cross claim, Sharp alleged that defenses MetLife raised during court supervised mediation in the underlying disability benefits litigation amounted to, among other things, a breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. 


The court supervised mediation took place in September 2005. Following that settlement conference, plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding Sharp as MetLife’s co-defendant and claiming that Sharp interfered with plaintiff’s attainment of benefits and misled plaintiff regarding options for extending her long term disability insurance coverage following her termination.  All elements of that claim have since been resolved.
Sharp then filed a cross claim against MetLife alleging that the defenses MetLife raised during the September 2005 mediation breached MetLife’s fiduciary duty to Sharp under the ERISA plan and seeking the attorneys fees and costs Sharp incurred in connection with defending against plaintiff’s  amended complaint and prosecuting the cross claim. 


After nearly two years of litigation and shortly before the close of discovery, Sharp amended its cross claim. Sharp shifted the focus of its allegations and added several state law theories of liability, and MetLife moved to dismiss all counts of the amended cross claim.  In granting MetLife’s motion, the judge noted that ERISA does not authorize the types of claims Sharp alleged or the relief sought.  In addition, the court concluded that ERISA preempted Sharp’s state law claims and that Sharp was not entitled to the relief it sought in federal court.

Mandell Menkes LLC represented Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.  Steven Mandell was the primary lawyer with Natalie Harris assisting with the defense.  Please contact Mr. Mandell  at (312) 251-1000 with any additional inquiries.