United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the pro se Plaintiff's,
Jimella Harris, Motion Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(a)(2), (b) and (e) [ECF No. 36] and Motion
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) and (b)(6)
[ECF No. 37]. In these motions, the Plaintiff seeks
reconsideration of the Court's April 15, 2019 Opinion and
Order [ECF No. 31] granting the Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES the
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint on September
11, 2018 [ECF No. 1], asserting a breach of fiduciary duty by
the Defendant Central States Pension Fund under 29 U.S.C.
§ 1104(a). Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 11. The following
facts, taken from the Plaintiff's Complaint and the
exhibits attached to the Complaint, were set forth in the
Court's April 15, 2019 Order. The Plaintiff was married
to a participant in the Defendant's pension plan from
August 25, 1995, to August 27, 2003. Id. ¶ 5.
After the Plaintiff became aware that her ex-husband retired
from his employment with the Defendant, she contacted the
Defendant on August 23, 2004, to state that she was entitled
to her ex-husband's pension. Id. ¶ 8, Ex.
8A. The Plaintiff asserted that her divorce decree from the
Allen County Superior Court entitled her to her
ex-husband's pension. Id. Exs. 3, 8A. The
Plaintiff requested a lump sum payment of the money owed and
verification of her beneficiary status. Id. Ex. 8A.
September 14, 2004, the Defendant informed the Plaintiff by
letter that she was not entitled to benefits. Id.
¶ 8, Ex. 9A. In the letter, the Defendant stated that
the Plaintiff's divorce decree was not a Qualified
Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and a QDRO was needed because
her ex-husband's pension was an ERISA regulated plan.
Id. Ex. 9A. The Defendant further explained that the
Plaintiff would not be an alternate payee entitled to pension
benefits until the Defendant received a QDRO. Id.
The Defendant also set forth in the letter the requirements
for a QDRO. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that she endured a back-and-forth with the
Defendant regarding a QDRO. Id. ¶ 9. The
Plaintiff submitted a May 2008 order from the state court
that the Defendant recognized as a “domestic relations
order”; however, the Plaintiff did not submit the May
2008 order as a QDRO. Id.
June 10, 2008 letter, the Defendant addressed two proposed
domestic relations orders that had been provided by the
Plaintiff and indicated that either one would be deemed
“Qualified” upon receipt of a certified copy.
Id. ¶ 18, Ex. 9F at 1. The Defendant also
informed the Plaintiff that it would establish an escrow
account for up to 18 months to determine whether the parties
were able to submit an order that the Defendant considered a
QDRO. Id. Ex. 9F at 2. On September 18, 2008, the
Defendant informed the Plaintiff's ex-husband by letter
that it would release the escrowed amounts because the Order
of Judgment required that he pay the Plaintiff directly from
the benefit he receives from the Defendant. Id. Ex.
9G. The Defendant received a signed and notarized statement
from both the Plaintiff and her ex-husband that requested the
release of the escrowed amounts. Id. Ex. 9H.
Plaintiff's ex-husband died in November 2008,
id. Ex. 15C at 3, and the Plaintiff appealed the
denial of benefits in 2009, id. Ex. 9M. On June 17,
2009, the Defendant advised the Plaintiff that she was not
eligible to receive any pension benefit and that the proposed
QDROs were defective. Id. Ex. 9M. The Defendant
determined that the Plaintiff was not eligible for a
surviving spouse benefit because she was not married to her
ex-husband at the time of his death. Id. Since she
had not submitted a QDRO assigning her surviving spouse
rights and the Plaintiff's Decree of Dissolution of
Marriage did not constitute a QDRO, the Plaintiff was not
eligible for a surviving spouse benefit. Id.
December 4, 2017 letter, the Plaintiff requested that the
Defendant reopen her appeal. Id. Ex. 14. On January
4, 2018, the Defendant informed the Plaintiff that, while her
appeal had been denied on June 9, 2009, it would review new
information provided by the Plaintiff. Id. Ex. 15.
On February 1, 2018, the Plaintiff submitted an appeal in the
administrative appeal process, which the Defendant's
Benefit Claims Appeals Committee denied on March 21, 2018.
Id. Ex. 15C. The Plaintiff then appealed to the
Trustees, and her appeal was denied on May 8, 2018.
Id. Exs. 15D, 15E.
Complaint filed with this Court, the Plaintiff alleged that
“the Defendant breached its fiduciary duty to the
Plaintiff as a beneficiary to the Defendant's Plan with
such beneficiary status established by the Plaintiff's
and Participant's divorce decree.” Id. The
Plaintiff alleged that there was willful concealment of
material information on two fronts: (1) the Defendant
willfully concealed its possession of the Plaintiff's
divorce decree; and (2) the Defendant failed to notify the
Plaintiff of the pension plan procedures. Id.
¶¶ 13-14, 23(A)-(B). Finally, the Plaintiff asked
the Court to order the Defendant to pay Plaintiff the $4, 000
that had been withheld in an escrow fund and later paid to
the Plaintiff's ex-husband. Id. ¶ 20.
November 16, 2018, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss
[ECF No. 13] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
2(b)(6), arguing that the Plaintiff's claims are barred
by the three-year statute of limitations for fiduciary
breaches. The Plaintiff filed a response, the Defendant filed
a reply, the Plaintiff filed a sur-response, and the
Defendant filed an additional reply.
November 26, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Sanctions
[ECF No. 20]. The same date, the Plaintiff also filed a
Motion for Judgment on Partial Findings [ECF No. 21], arguing
that the Defendant should pay $4, 000 due to loss of funds as
a direct result of the Defendant's errors. The Defendant
filed a response to the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment
on Partial Findings, and the Plaintiff filed a reply.
April 15, 2019, this Court issued an Opinion and Order
granting the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the
Plaintiff's Complaint, denying the Plaintiff's Motion
for Sanctions, and denying the Plaintiff's Motion for
Judgment on Partial Findings [ECF No. 31]. The Court
dismissed the Plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), finding that her claims
were barred by ERISA's statute of limitations for
fiduciary breaches set out in 29 U.S.C. § 1113.
ruling, the Court noted that the Plaintiff alleged that she
had been married to her husband from August 25, 1995, to
August 27, 2003, and that she alleged entitlement to a
portion of her ex-husband's pension based upon a Divorce
Decree entered in her divorce case in state court. Apr. 15,
2019 Op. and Order 1. The Court found that, based on the
allegations of the Complaint, the Plaintiff had actual notice
of the alleged breach of fiduciary duty when she received the
September 14, 2004 letter informing her that she was not
entitled to benefits due to the lack of a QDRO. Id.
9. As a result, the Court held that her claims are barred by