benefits without the requisite written agreement and release the CTP
called for. In support of this proposition, Nelson offered no witnesses
or other documentation that backed his claim. Beyond his own statements,
Nelson's sole support for his version of the facts essentially amounts to
a bare charge that every one of the Nielsen employees who offered a
contrary account was lying.
In this Court view, the Committee could rationally have concluded that
Nelson's theory not only lacks economic plausibility but has even less
grounding in reason or common sense. The Court finds no reasonable basis
to support a conclusion that, on the administrative record before the
Plan administrator regarding Nelson's CTP benefits claim, the Committee's
decision was not based on a consideration of the relevant factors, or
that it reflected a clear error in judgment, and was thus arbitrary and
capricious. See Jordan, 46 F.3d at 1271. Accordingly, the Court concludes
that Nielsen is entitled to summary judgment on Nelson's claim alleging
wrongful denial of ERISA benefits.
C. BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
Nelson's second and third causes of action assert breach of fiduciary
duties and invoke 29 U.S.C. § 1104, 1105, 1109 and 1132(a).
Specifically, he alleges that Rubino and Farrell "changed and/or falsified
information related to Plaintiff's separation, for the purpose of denying
Plan benefits sought by Plaintiff." (Compl. ¶ 25) He further claims
that Farrell in particular, because she reported directly to Rubino, was
in a position to know and correct the alleged breach of fiduciary duty
but failed to do so. (See id. at ¶ 35.)
Nelson's response papers to the instant motion do not specifically
address Nielsen's legal objections to these claims. It is therefore
unclear whether, by failing to oppose, Nelson has effectively conceded or
withdrawn these claims. In any event, Nelson's breach of fiduciary claims
fail for three reasons. First, they rest on essentially the same events
and factual record that the Court has found sufficient to defeat Nelson's
claim of wrongful denial of benefits. The Court finds nothing in the
evidence before it to support a rational conclusion that the Committee as
a whole, or any Nielsen officials individually, breached any fiduciary
duty owed to Nelson personally as a beneficiary of the Plan.
Second, as Nielsen correctly argues, Nelson's causes of action
asserting breach of fiduciary duty demand the same monetary remedy
asserted under his claims for wrongful denial of benefits. Such recovery
is barred under both 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2) and 1132(a)(3).
Subsection (a)(2) provides a remedy for breach of fiduciary duty only on
behalf of the plan, not on behalf of individual beneficiaries. In
Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Russell, 473 U.S. 134, 144 (1985),
the Supreme Court, holding that ERISA does not authorize an action by a
plan beneficiary for an award of extracontractual damages, noted that:
"[t]he entire text of [ERISA] § 409 persuades us that Congress did
not intend that section to authorize any relief except for the plan
itself."; see also Lee v. Burkhart, 991 F.2d 1004, 1009 (2d Cir. 1993);
Kishter v. Principal Life Ins. Co., 186 F. Supp.2d 438, 442 (S.D.N.Y.
Finally, subsection (a)(3) permits actions only to obtain an injunction
or "other appropriate equitable relief." 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3). In
Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204, 122
S.Ct. 708 (2002), the Supreme Court held that a suit seeking an
injunction to compel reimbursement of payments of money past due under on
ERISA plan was not available under
subsection 502(a)(3) because such an
action did not qualify as relief typically available in equity. See id.,
122 S.Ct. at 717-718 (citing Mertens v. Hewitt Associates, 508 U.S. 248,
256 (1993)); Lee, 991 F.2d at 1011 ("The plain language of the statute
does not provide for monetary relief and a review of the legislative
history confirms that Congress did not contemplate that this phrase would
include an award of money damages."); Kishter, 186 F. Supp.2d at 442.
Accordingly, Nelson's Second and Third Causes of Action must be
D. ATTORNEY'S FEES
Nelson's Fourth Cause of Action seeks attorney's fees pursuant to the
discretionary authority conferred on the Court by
29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). The Court finds no reasonable basis to
support an award of attorney's fees to either party under the
circumstances of this case.
As a final matter, accompanying his response to the instant motion,
Nelson submitted a letter addressed to the Court alleging that Nielsen
had failed to comply with the requirement of Local Rule 56.2 concerning
Notice to Pro Se Litigants Opposing Summary Judgment. Nielsen counters
this assertion with a copy of a cover letter dated September 27, 2002
addressed to Nelson enclosing Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
accompanying Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment in this matter. (See Reply Memorandum in Further Support
of Defendant's Motion to Summary Judgment, dated November 1, 2002, letter
attached following page 6.) This letter contains notice of the instant
motion sufficient to comply with Rule 56.2. Nelson's submission of his
own Rule 56.1 statement suggests that he was sufficiently informed of the
procedure and its implications.
For the reasons stated above, it is hereby
ORDERED that the Court's Order dated November 27, 2002 is amended to
incorporate the discussion set forth above; and it is further
ORDERED that defendant Nielsen Media Research Inc.'s motion for summary
judgment is granted with respect to all causes of action asserted in the
amended complaint of plaintiff Sean Alan Nelson.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case.