The opinion of the court was delivered by: Berman, District Judge.
Plaintiff Joseph A. Brunetto ("Plaintiff" or "Brunetto") holds two
disability insurance policies issued to him on January 23, 1995 and
August 1, 1995, respectively, by Defendant Massachusetts Mutual Life
Insurance Company ("Defendant" or "Mass-Mutual") (collectively, the
"Policies"). Plaintiff filed the instant breach of contract action on
December 9, 1999 and an amended complaint on February 18, 2000 ("Amended
Complaint") seeking damages from Defendant.*fn1 Plaintiff contends,
inter alia, that under the Policies, Mass-Mutual should (but has not)
adjust the "Monthly Income Payments" to reflect cost of living
increases. Pl's. Mem. at 10-13.*fn2
On or about May 22, 2001, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ.P.") 56(a). On or about
June 22, 2001, Defendant opposed Plaintiffs motion and, on or about July
5, 2001, Plaintiff submitted a reply memorandum.
On March 26, 2002, United States Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz, to
whom the matter had been referred, issued a report ("Report")
recommending that (1) Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment be denied
and (2) that the action be dismissed with prejudice because the Report
resolves the sole remaining issue in the case. Report at 20. Magistrate
Katz advised and notified the parties of the procedures for objecting to
the Report, stating that "[p]ursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(C),
and Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties shall
have ten (10) days from service of this
Report to file written objections. . . . Failure to file objections will
result in a waiver of those objections for purposes of appeal." Id. at
21. On April 5, 2002, Plaintiff objected to the Report
("Pl's.Objections") and on April 24, 2002, Defendant opposed Plaintiffs
For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Report in its
entirety; denies Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, and dismisses
A district court evaluating a Magistrate's report may adopt those
portions of the report to which no "specific, written objection" is made,
as long as those sections are not clearly erroneous. Fed. R.Civ.P. 72
(b); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149, 106 S.Ct. 466, 88 L.Ed.2d 435
(1985); Greene v. WCI Holdings Corp., 956 F. Supp. 509, 513 (S.D.N.Y.
1997). Where, as here, timely objections are made to a Magistrate's
report, the District Judge must make a de novo determination as to the
objections raised. Cespedes v. Coughlin, 956 F. Supp. 454, 463 (S.D.N.Y.
1997). A district judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the findings and recommendations of the Magistrate. See DeLuca v.
Lord, 858 F. Supp. 1330, 1345 (S.D.N.Y. 1994).
The facts set forth in the Report are incorporated herein by
The Court has conducted a de novo review of the record herein, the
Report, as well as appropriate legal authorities. Magistrate Katz was
correct that there are no genuine issues of material fact, i.e. the
Policies' terms are unambiguous and, pursuant to the Policies, Plaintiff
is not entitled to payments in an amount greater than "Monthly Income,"
as defined in the Policies. Report at 7 ("Nothing . . . suggests that the
monthly income is subject to upward adjustments."); Report at 15 ("Thus,
while Plaintiff is correct that `the policies explicitly state the amount
of increases in the monthly average that Mr. Brunetto is entitled to'
(Pl's. Mem. at 11), Plaintiff is incorrect that this automatically
translates into higher monthly benefit payments.").
In his Objections, Plaintiff contends, among other things, that: (1)
"the Court in this matter has misconstrued the terms and conditions of
the policies and . . . has interpreted these policies in a view that no
lay person could be expected to grasp or understand" (Pl's. Objections at
1) and (2) "[h]ad Judge Katz found the policies' terms ambiguous, then
the plaintiffs affidavit[, among other things,] would be extremely
relevant in determining the expectations of the parties at the time the
contract was executed." Id. at 2.
Plaintiffs contentions are not persuasive. "[A]n insurance policy, like
any contract, must be construed to effectuate the intent of the parties
as derived from the plain meaning of the policy's terms." Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 189 F.3d 208, 215
(2d Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). "If the language of the insurance
contract is unambiguous, we apply its terms." Id. "When a court decides,
after examination of the contractual language, that an insurance policy
is ambiguous, it looks outside the policy to extrinsic evidence, if any,
to ascertain the intent of the parties." Id. Where, as here, "the
parties' intent is unambiguously conveyed by the plain meaning of the
agreements, then interpretation is a matter of law." Crane Co. v. Coltec
Indus., 171 F.3d 733, 737 (2d Cir. 1999).
The Magistrate used the appropriate legal analysis in determining that
the Policies are unambiguous. See Seiden Assocs.
v. ANC Holdings, 959 F.2d 425, 428 (2d Cir. 1992) (An insurance policy is
ambiguous if it is "capable of more than one meaning when viewed
objectively by a reasonably intelligent person who has examined the
context of the entire integrated agreement.") (quotation marks omitted);
see, e.g., Report at 5-6, 17 ("An ordinary person can be expected to
understand that the statement `[Monthly Income] may also depend on
changes in the Consumer Price Index' does not mean that the ...