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McKennan v. Meadowvale Dairy Employee Benefit Plan

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

October 1, 2018

AVERA MCKENNAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MEADOWVALE DAIRY EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLAN; and MEADOWVALE DAIRY, LLC, in its capacity as plan administrator, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Mark A. Roberts United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Compel. (Doc. 29.) Plaintiff timely filed a resistance. (Doc. 33.) For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court has previously discussed the factual background of this case in depth and will not repeat that discussion here. (Doc. 19 at 1-5.) In sum, this case was brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et. seq. (“ERISA”), by Plaintiff as “assignee of all of the late Juan Pablo Garcia Marquez'[s] . . . rights, remedies, benefits, and causes of action under the Meadowvale Dairy Employee Benefit Plan.” (Doc. 17 ¶ 1.) Plaintiff is a non-profit hospital that treated Mr. Marquez for an ailment that left Mr. Marquez paralyzed. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 3.)

Pursuant to a written assignment (“the assignment”) Mr. Marquez allegedly assigned to [Plaintiff] all of [Mr. Marquez's] rights, remedies, benefits . . . as well as any and all causes of action that [Mr. Marquez] might have now or in the future against any Payer to the extent of [Mr. Marquez's] medical charges, [and] the right to prosecute such cause of action either in [Mr. Marquez's] name or in the name of [Plaintiff].

(Doc. 17-4 at 1) (omission in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted.)

         The Parties do not contest whether Defendants are “payers, ” within the meaning of the assignment, and the Court will therefore assume that Defendants are “payers” for purposes of the instant motion.

         Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Marquez was entitled to benefits under the Meadowvale Dairy Employment Benefit Plan, and that Meadowvale Dairy, LLC, as plan administrator, improperly denied such benefits. (Doc. 17 ¶¶ 25-30.) Plaintiff asserts that Plaintiff is empowered to bring this suit based on rights Mr. Marquez would have had, but for the assignment of those rights to Plaintiff.[1] (Id. at 1.)

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed its Complaint. (Doc. 1.) On March 30, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Complaint. (Doc. 13.) On April 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed its Amended Complaint. (Doc. 17.) On April 30, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint. (Doc. 18.) On May 4, 2018, the Court entered its Memorandum of Opinion and Order on Motion to Dismiss, in which the Court denied both pending Motions to Dismiss. (Doc. 19.)

         The motions, briefs, and the Court's ruling thereon, addressed at length Defendants' argument regarding Plaintiff's standing under the Assignment. (Docs. 13-, at 1-8; 18-6 at 1-8; 19 at 6-9.) On May 14, 2018, the Court approved and adopted the Parties' Joint Proposed Scheduling Order For a Claim-Review Case Filed Under ERISA. (Doc. 20.) On August 20, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' Motion for an Extension of Time, in which Defendants sought an extension of time for Defendants to file their meritorious brief and for Plaintiff to file its reply brief. (Docs. 30, 31.) The Scheduling Order set the following relevant deadlines:

1. Deadline for filing of the administrative record: June 4, 2018
2. Deadline for filing of Plaintiff's opening brief: July 13, 2018

(Doc. 20.) Under the Order Granting Motion for Extension of Time, the deadlines for Defendants to file their brief and for Plaintiff to file its reply brief became contingent upon the Court's ruling on the instant motion. ...


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