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Suthar v. Eastman Kodak Co.

April 28, 2010

SHAMAL L. SUTHAR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY, GLOBAL BENEFITS ORGANIZATION EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Siragusa, J. This Employment Retirement Income Security ("ERISA") case is before the Court on Defendants' motion (Docket No. 15) to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the application is granted and the case is dismissed.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, on May 27, 2009. Defendants successfully brought a change of venue motion, and the matter is now pending in this Court. On August 20, 2009, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, arguing that, (1) on the ERISA claim, Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies and was beyond the statute of limitations, and that (2) on the estoppel claim, he had not properly plead an essential element. The complaint contains the following allegations relevant to Defendants' arguments:

5. Suthar was an employee of Kodak from 1966 until 1991. In 1991, Kodak offered its employees a Golden Parachute retirement package. Employees that accepted this retirement package would be eligible to receive a lump sum payment and would also receive covered health insurance for the employee and his or her spouse for their lifetime. Employees only had a certain amount of time to accept the Golden parachute plan, and those who did not, would be subject to a different retirement plan.

6. Suthar accepted the Golden Parachute retirement package and received a lump sum settlement. He also enjoyed free health insurance for himself and his wife after he retired from Kodak pursuant to the terms of the Golden Parachute retirement package.

7. At Kodak's request, after accepting the Golden parachute retirement package, Suthar remained working for a few months at Kodak. Suthar did so entirely as an accommodation to Kodak and Kodak informed Suthar that his remaining on the job for an extra few months would have no effect on his retirement benefits.

8. After Suthar left Kodak he and his wife received free health insurance pursuant to the terms of the Golden Parachute retirement plan. For a significant number of years, Kodak treated Suthar as being retired under the Golden Parachute retirement plan and paid Suthar benefits in accordance with the terms of the Golden parachute plan. Kodak is now estopped from claiming otherwise.

9. In 2008, Kodak made changes to a plan that covered workers who did not participate in the Golden Parachute retirement plan. Kodak erroneously informed Suthar that the new changes would apply to him and his wife.

10. Suthar wrote Kodak explaining that he was not subject to the terms of that plan because he was subject to the terms of the Golden Parachute retirement plan. Kodak has now denied that Suthar is a participant in the Golden Parachute plan and instead has treated Suthar as being subject to the other plan.

11. Suthar has incurred expenses as a result of Kodak's refusal to treat him as being governed by the terms of the Golden Parachute retirement plan. Suthar will continue to incur additional expenses relating to health care for himself and his wife.

12. Suthar has exhausted his administrative remedies. (Complaint ...


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