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Forristall v. Federal Express Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 21, 2014

JOHN F. FORRISTALL III
v.
FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION

For John Forristall III, Plaintiff: David W. Krumsiek, LEAD ATTORNEY, Perry, Krumsiek and Dolan, LLP, Boston, MA.

For Federal Express Corporation, Defendant: Karen Vaughan McManus, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, FedEx Express Corp, Legal Department, Memphis, TN; Rachel E. Munoz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP, Boston, MA.

Page 187

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Richard G. Stearns, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

The facts, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff John Forristall III, the non-movant, are as follows. Forristall was a longtime, and by all accounts, successful employee of defendant Federal Express Corporation (Fedex). In January of 2003, Forristall and his then-wife Mary divorced. The Divorce Judgment Nisi required Forristall, inter alia, to

maintain his present group medical insurance policy, (Cigna), or its equivalent . . . for MARY for so long as she is able to be covered at no additional cost to JOHN. If there is an additional cost associated with covering MARY on his family plan health insurance policy, then JOHN shall provide Mary in writing with the opportunity to continue such coverage upon her payment of that additional expense.

Am. Compl. ¶ 12, Ex. C. (The Divorce Judgment further recited that this provision satisfied the Massachusetts insurance continuation laws.)

Forristall notified his then-manager Chuck Strong of his divorce and informed Strong of the obligations imposed by the Divorce Judgment (including payment of child support and alimony). Strong made entries on his computer, and assured Forristall that he was in compliance with the Divorce Judgment. With respect to Forristall's medical insurance, Strong stated that he was going to " leave it the way it is." Am. Compl. ¶ 14.

Mary was covered under Fedex's group health insurance plan until March of 2010,

Page 188

when Forristall approached his current manager, Joseph Zizza, with a request to be given two days off work to propose to his girlfriend. He also asked Zizza about removing Mary fro his health insurance plan and substituting his soon-to-be bride in her place. Zizza informed Forristall that Mary should never have been kept on the plan after the divorce. Forristall was first suspended with pay, then later without, and ultimately terminated, allegedly because Mary had been wrongfully extended coverage under Forristall's insurance plan.[1]

Forristall filed this lawsuit in April of 2013. He alleges wrongful discharge (Count I), negligent misrepresentation (Count II), intentional misrepresentation (Count III), and promissory estoppel (Count IV). Fedex contends that all four counts of the Amended Complaint are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.[2] The court heard argument on November 20, 2014.

DISCUSSION

ERISA " supersede[s] any and all State laws insofar as they . . . relate to any [qualified] employee benefit plan." 29 U.S.C. § 1144 (a). For purposes of ERISA exemption, " state law" includes " all laws, decisions, rules, regulations, or other State action having the effect of law, of any State," 29 U.S.C. § 1144(c)(1), except state laws that " regulate[] insurance, banking, or securities." 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(A). A state law " relate[s] to" an employee benefit plan " if it [1] has a connection with or [2] reference to such a plan." California Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement v. Dillingham ...


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