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Grant v. JP Morgan Chase & Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

October 16, 2019

LARRY M. GRANT, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
JP MORGAN CHASE & CO., Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM F. JUNG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss the Action. (Dkt. 31). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (Dkt. 36) and Defendant replied (Dkt. 37). After hearing argument on October 11, 2019, and carefully reviewing the file and applicable law, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's motion (Dkt. 31). The Court compels arbitration and stays the case. The Court denies Defendant's request to dismiss this action.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Larry M. Grant initiated this action in state court on June 14, 2019, against his former employer, Defendant JP Morgan Chase. Plaintiff sues on behalf of himself and others similarly situated for alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), as amended by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 ("COBRA"). (Dkt. 1-1). Defendant timely removed the case to this court on July 24, 2019. (Dkt. 1). A motion to certify the class has not yet been filed.

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 1, 2019. (Dkt. 4). In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that while an employee of Defendant, he was covered under a health plan through Defendant. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff complains that after he was terminated on March 30, 2019, Defendant failed to properly give him lawful notice of his ability to continue his health coverage through COBRA. Id. ¶¶ 1, 18. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's notice violates the statute and is defective because it is incomplete and presented piece-meal. Id. ¶ 6. He contends the multi-part notice is confusing and fails to "be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant" in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 2590.606-4(b)(4)(v). Id. ¶¶ 47-53, 59-61. Additionally, he claims violations of the statutory provisions requiring identification of the plan administrator and disclosure of the address to send payments. Id. ¶¶ 43-46, 54-58.

         Defendant moved to dismiss the amended complaint on August 15, 2019. (Dkt. 11). Plaintiff sought two unopposed extensions of time, which were granted by the Court, see Dkts. 16, 17, 27, 28, and thus he has not yet had to respond to the motion to dismiss.

         Defendant sought to have this case designated as a Track 3 case, which the Court denied without prejudice. (Dkts. 15, 19). The parties participated in a meeting of counsel and on August 29, 2019, filed a Case Management Report. (Dkt. 23). Thereafter, the Court entered a Scheduling Order on August 30, 2019. (Dkt. 24).

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss the Action (Dkt. 31) that was filed September 16, 2019. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (Dkt. 36), and Defendant replied (Dkt. 37). A hearing on the motion was held October 11, 2019.

         II. Arbitration Agreement

         As part of his employment with Defendant, Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement ("Agreement") in October 2013 when he was hired as a Student Lending Loan Representative. (Dkt. 31-2). The Agreement provided as follows:

"Covered Claims" (as defined below) between me and JPMorgan Chase (collectively "Covered Parties" or "Parties" . . .) shall be submitted to and resolved by final and binding arbitration in accordance with this Agreement.

Id. at 4. The Agreement defined "Covered Claims" to include:

[A]ll legally protected employment-related claims . . . that I now have or in the future may have against JPMorgan Chase . . . which arise out of or relate to my employment or separation from employment with JPMorgan Chase and all legally protected employment-related claims that JPMorgan Chase has or in the future may have against me, including, but not limited to . .. violations of any other common law, federal, state, or local statute, ordinance, regulation or public policy ...

Id. Excluded claims under the Agreement included "(d) claims for benefits under a plan that is governed by [ERISA]." Id. Additionally, the Agreement required claims to be submitted individually, and not on a ...


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