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William D. Chapman v. the Plan Administration Committee of Citigroup

August 20, 2012

WILLIAM D. CHAPMAN, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE PLAN ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE OF CITIGROUP, INC., CIGNA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEW YORK, A/K/A CIGNA GROUP INSURANCE, A/K/A CIGNA WORLDWIDE INSURANCE CO., A/K/A INA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEW YORK, AND CITIGROUP, INC., A/K/A CITIGROUP, DEFENDANTS



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

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This is an action to recover long-term disability insurance benefits, brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132. Plaintiff, who is disabled under the subject long-term disability policy and is currently receiving benefits, maintains that Defendants are paying him less than the correct amount under the policy. Now before the Court are the parties' competing motions for summary judgment, which are each granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff previously sued Defendants to obtain a determination that he was disabled under the policy, and the reader is presumed to be familiar with the Court's prior Decision and Order granting summary judgment to him. See, Chapman v. The Plan Administration Committee of Citigroup, Inc., et al., 06-CV-6444, 2008 WL 141632 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2008).

Although Plaintiff is receiving long-term disability payments, he now maintains that Defendants improperly calculated the amount.*fn1 Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendants construed Amendment 10 to the Long Term Disability Plan in a manner that is arbitrary and capricious, by failing to include all elements of his "Total Compensation" when calculating his monthly benefit. See, Complaint [#1] at ¶ 19.*fn2 Amendment 10 states, in pertinent part:

Covered Earnings is Total Compensation as defined by the Employer. Total Compensation is your gross pay before any deferrals into 401(k), deferred compensation plans or flexible spending accounts and includes salary paid from the prior calendar year, commissions paid from the prior calendar year, bonuses paid in the prior calendar year (excluding annual incentive bonus paid in February of the prior year), and annual incentive bonus paid in February of the current year for prior year performance.

Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York ("CLICNY") Policy No. NYK-2260, Amendment 10, CLICNY 00438. For purposes of this action, the parties agree that in calculating Total Compensation under this definition, the "prior calendar year" is 2002, and the "current year" is 2003.*fn3

The relevant calculations used by Defendants are set forth in the "Citigroup Inc. Plans Administration Committee Agenda dated November 29, 2006," Citigroup 00001.*fn4

Column B of that document lists nine separate dollar figures or "items of compensation," identified by letter (a, d-k), as follows: a) Sales Compensation (before deductions for deferred comp and 401(k)) $130,214.64;*fn5 d) ADCP [Deferrred Compensation] Payout (2001 deferral) $90,695.70; e) ADCP Interest $1,758.21; f) Longevity Bonus $4,296.46; g) Asset Gathering Cash $2,811.00; h) Asset Gathering Cash Interest $714.75; i) Term Life Insurance Imputed Income $774.00; j) Money Market Fund Trails Principal $2991.10; and k) Money Market Fund Trails Interest $427.23. Of these nine possible items of compensation,*fn6 Defendants used only the first, item a, and determined that Plaintiff's Total Compensation under the plan was $130,214.64. See, id., Citigroup 00004 (Indicating that items d-k in Column B were not considered part of Total Compensation).

Plaintiff maintains that Defendants' calculation of Total Compensation was erroneous, as well as arbitrary and capricious. During the administrative process, Plaintiff maintained that the correct figure for "Total Compensation" was $225,206.80, which he arrived at by adding items a, d and f. See, e.g., email of Thomas Sinagra, Senior Claim Manager, Cigna Group Insurance date October 9, 2009, CLICNY 00200 ("In addition to the earnings figure of $130,214.64, Attorney Heller also feels that an ADCP payment of $90,695.70 should have been added to this earnings figure, as well as a longevity bonus of $4,296.46. Adding these 2 adjustments then yields the Total Compensation figure of $225,206.80 that Attorney Heller feels the LTD benefits should have been calculated off of.").

When commencing this action, Plaintiff continued to maintain that the correct Total Compensation figure was $225,206.80. In his Complaint, Plaintiff reiterated that this figure was accurate, based upon adding items a, d and f. See, Complaint ¶ 24. Moreover, in support of his motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff maintained the accuracy of this calculation. See, Memo of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment at p. 2, Docket No. [#8] at p. 7 (Indicating that Defendants incorrectly calculated Plaintiff's benefit "using a monthly covered earnings-total definition figure of $130,214.64, rather than the $225,206 figure Mr. Chapman had insisted on at all times.") (emphasis added); see also, Docket No. [#8] at p. 11 ("The suggested figures are $130,214.64 plus ADCP payment of $90,695, plus longevity bonus of $4,296.46 = $225,206.80 = Total Compensation.").*fn7

Based upon this calculation, and factoring in an offset for social security disability payments, Plaintiff maintains that the correct amount he should receive per month is $8,296.34. See, e.g., letter of Attorney Heller to CIGNA dated Mar. 16, 2010, CLICNY 00146 ("I cannot understand how anyone can read [the policy] any way other than to result in his monthly benefit being approximately $8,296.34.") (emphasis in original).

Since Plaintiff has actually been receiving only $3,547.00 per month,*fn8 he claims that Defendants owe him an additional $4749.34 per month. See, Complaint [#1] at ΒΆ 25 ("[Plaintiff] has been short ...


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