United States District Court, D. Maryland
February 18, 2015
RELIANCE STANDARD LIFE INS. CO.
J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.
Plaintiff has filed this pro se action under ERISA. Defendant originally moved to dismiss the complaint because plaintiffs claims were barred by limitations. This court denied the motion on the ground that the conducting of discovery might establish that plaintiff reasonably was not aware of the limitations provision. The discovery deadline has now passed, and defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment, again on limitations grounds. Plaintiff has responded. The motion will be granted.
The very latest this action could have been filed was April 12, 2014. This date is three years after the deadline for plaintiff to submit an internal appeal to defendant of its denial of her claim. See Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 134 S.Ct. 604 (2013). This action was not filed until April 15, 2014.
Plaintiff asserts, and the summary judgment record reflects, that although the action was not filed until April 15, 2014, she placed it in a mailbox on April 12, 2014. The "mailbox rule" applies to incarcerated prisoners who do not have the freedom of movement to go to the courthouse to make a filing timely of a complaint. There is no reason to extend the rule to other plaintiffs.
Likewise, the doctrine of equitable tolling does not apply. On several occasions defendant offered to provide plaintiff with its claim file, which included a copy of plaintiffs policy that itself included the provisions upon which plaintiff now relies. Moreover, plaintiff could have requested a copy of her policy from her employer but did not do so.. Thus, there is no evidence that defendant took action to deny plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to exercise her rights.
A separate order granting defendant's motion for summary judgment and granting judgment on its behalf is being entered herewith.