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Danielle R. P. v. Charitable Leadership Found

March 23, 2012

DANIELLE R. P. KINSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARITABLE LEADERSHIP FOUND., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court, in this action filed pro se by Danielle R. P. Kinsey ("Plaintiff") against Charitable Leadership Foundation ("Defendant") pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq., is Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust her available administrative remedies before commencing this action. (Dkt. No. 4.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Generally, in her Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a claim for retirement benefits against Defendant, pursuant to ERISA. (See generally Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.].) In support of this claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant wrongfully denied her ERISA benefits when it failed to contribute four percent of her 2009 and 2010 salaries (amounting in $3,192.20) to her retirement fund. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that she was entitled to these benefits under Defendant's Charitable Leadership Defined Contribution Retirement Plan ("the Plan"). (Id.) Familiarity with the remaining factual allegations supporting this claim in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

B. Factual Background

The following summary of the events giving rise to this action is derived from Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendant's motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff's reply memorandum of law. (See generally Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.]; Dkt. No. 4 [Def.'s Motion to Dismiss]; Dkt. No. 5 [Plf.'s Resp. Memo. of Law].)

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from May 2006 until July 2010, when she was temporarily laid off by Defendant. While Plaintiff was temporarily laid off, Defendant sent a letter to her (and other employees who were temporarily laid off) stating that eligible employees would receive a contribution of four percent of their 2009 and 2010 salaries to the Plan on or about November 15, 2010, and January 31, 2011, respectively. Subsequently, Defendant sent another letter to Plaintiff stating that those contributions would instead be made on or about March 31, 2011.

After contacting her bank, Plaintiff received written confirmation from that bank on May 17, 2010 and May 25, 2011, that the contributions in question had not been made. In May 2011, Plaintiff called Defendant to confirm that the contributions had not been made. During this call, Defendant did not ask Plaintiff to submit a claim for these contributions. Nor did she subsequently send any written communication to Defendant.

Rather, later in May 2011, Plaintiff filed an Application to File a Small Claim in Saratoga Springs City County Court for these contributions. Defendant subsequently removed this claim to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, on the ground that Plaintiff's claim arises under ERISA.

Familiarity with the remaining factual background of this action is assumed in this Decision and Order, which (again) is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

C. Defendant's Motion

Generally, in support of its motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her available administrative remedies before commencing this action in May 2011, by failing to submit a prior written claim to Defendant as required by the Plan. (See generally Dkt. No. 4, Part 3 [Def.'s Memo. of Law].) In response to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff argues as follows:

(1) she was never asked to submit a claim or any written communication to Defendant; and (2) she was an eligible participant in the Plan and thus entitled to the contributions she seeks. (See generally Dkt. No. 5 [Plf.'s Opp. Papers].) In its reply, Defendant reiterates its original argument that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her available administrative ...


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