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LOTT v. MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO.

United States District Court, S.D. New York


September 24, 2004.

MARY LOTT Plaintiff
v.
MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO. LONG-TERM DISABILITY PLAN, WELFARE PLAN ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE OF MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO. as plan administrator, and FIRST UNUM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR., District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Defendants, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co Long-Term Disability Plan, Welfare Plan Administration Committee of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., and First Unum Life Insurance Company (collectively, "Defendants") move for judgment on the administrative record to deny Plaintiff, Mary Lott ("Lott" or "Plaintiff"), long term disability benefits ("LTD") pursuant to a group disability policy ("Policy") and dismiss the complaint. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

  On August 16, 2004, Defendants filed a two-page notice of motion and a brief in support of their motion for judgment on the administrative record. On August 30, 2004, Plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record, an attorney affirmation with exhibits, and a counter-statement of material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. Defendants filed a reply brief in further support of their motion for judgment on the administrative record on September 3, 2004 and, on September 7, 2004, provided courtesy copies to the Court and a CD-Rom containing the over 400 page administrative record.

  II. DISCUSSION

  Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record fails for three reasons. First, the Defendants' motion does not appear to be authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Second Circuit has provided district courts with minimal guidance on how to adjudicate a motion that has no foundation in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but has opined that a motion for judgment on the administrative record should be treated as "a motion for summary judgment." Muller v. First Unum Life Ins. Co., 341 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2003).

  Second, the Second Circuit requires the non-moving party be provided sufficient notice that the district court is considering a motion for summary judgment. Tholke v. Unisys Corp, 01 Civ. 5495, 2004 WL 960029 (2d Cir. May 5, 2004). In Tholke, the Second Circuit reversed my decision granting Defendants summary judgment motion for failure to provide plaintiff with sufficient notice because "especially in a case like this, where the merits are difficult and proper briefing might well have been helpful to the district court, the more prudent course is to give Plaintiff a full opportunity to present her arguments and evidence." Id., 2004 WL 960029, at * 4. While in that lawsuit there was, what I would characterize, as notice galore, that is not the case at bar and, in any event, not the circuit's perception. Accordingly, even if the Court were to adjudicate Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record by turning it into a motion for summary judgment, neither the Court nor Defendants have provided Lott with sufficient notice to that effect. Id., 2004 WL 960029, at * 4.

  Third, motions for summary judgment are subject to not only the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but, also, to the Local Civil Rules. Local Civil Rule 56.1 supplements Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 with three additional requirements:

(a) Upon any motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there shall be annexed to the notice of motion a separate, short and concise statement, in numbered paragraphs, of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried. Failure to submit such a statement may constitute grounds for denial of the motion.
(b) The papers opposing a motion for summary judgment shall include a correspondingly numbered paragraph responding to each numbered paragraph in the statement of the moving party, and if necessary, additional paragraphs containing a separate, short and concise statement of additional material facts as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried.
(c) Each numbered paragraph in the statement of material facts required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted for purposes of the motion unless specifically controverted by a correspondingly numbered paragraph in the statement required to be served by the opposing party.
(d) Each statement by the movant or opponent pursuant to Rule 56.1(a) and (b), including each statement controverting any statement of material fact, must be followed by citation to evidence which would be admissible, set forth as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e).
Local Civil Rule 56.1.

  While I am, in the interest of justice and to perpetuate the Federal Rules philosophy that cases are to be tried on their merits, prepared to overlook the lack of foundation and the Tholke notice deficiencies, Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record fails to provide all the necessary information to adjudicate a motion for summary judgment under the Local Rules. Defendants' motion, for example, fails to provide a "separate short and concise statement of material facts as to which" it contends there is no genuine issue of material fact. Local Civil Rule 56.1(a). Absent the documentation required by the local rules, the motion is fatally deficient.

  III. CONCLUSION

  For all of the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion for judgment on the administrative record is DENIED. Defendants are GRANTED thirty days to file a motion for summary judgment with all the documentation required by Local Civil Rule 56.1. Plaintiff is GRANTED thirty additional days to respond to a motion for summary judgment. Defendant, if necessary, has ten days to refile, including all the documentation required by Local Civil Rule 56.1. Fully briefed motion papers are to be filed, with a courtesy copy to Chambers, on or before November 30, 2004. The Clerk is instructed to close this motion.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.

20040924

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