United States District Court, D. Maryland
FRANKLYN K. JONES, Plaintiff
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, et al. Defendants.
L. Hollander United States District Judge
K. Jones, the self-represented plaintiff, filed suit against
a host of defendants. They include his former employer,
General Electric Company (“GE”), as well as
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”);
Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.
(“Sedgwick”); Bon Secours Mercy Health, Inc.
(“Bon Secours”); Yoh Services, LLC
(“Yoh”); and thirteen individuals: Pierre Feraud,
Pierre De-La-Borderie, Cinthia Arcuri, Ivonne M. Basora,
Dixie Chavez, Caroline Jennings, Betty Ansel, Allison M. Lue,
Christopher Murray, Phillip Mike Hall, Jim Brault, Dennis
Callmie, and Kelly Ayanna. ECF 42 (“Amended
Amended Complaint is 121 pages in length. Plaintiff appended
an additional 88 pages of exhibits. ECF 42-1 to ECF 42-6.
And, the Amended Complaint incorporates by reference
plaintiff's 266-page initial Complaint. ECF 1-3 (the
“Complaint”). The Amended Complaint is difficult to
decipher. But, as best the Court can tell, the gravamen of
plaintiff's suit is that GE unlawfully terminated him on
the basis of his disability, national origin, and age, and he
was wrongfully denied disability benefits under GE's
long-term disability plan, which is governed by the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”),
as amended 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq.
proverbial “kitchen sink” Amended Complaint
asserts the following causes of action: “Defamation By
Way of Libel & Slander” (Count A); “Torturous
[sic] Interference With Existing Contracts” (Count B);
Aiding & Abetting (Count C); Conspiracy (Count D);
“Ratification” (Count E);
“Retraction” (Count F); “EEOC Violation,
National Origin” (Count G); “EEOC Violation,
Disability” (Count H); “EEOC Violation,
Disability” (Count I); “18 USC 1589 violation
Forced Labor” (Count J); “Abuse of Process in
each respective Venue” (Count K); “Maryland Code,
Insurance Title 27 - Unfair Trade Practices And Other
Prohibited Practices” (Count L); numerous violations of
ERISA (Counts M-I to M-VIII); and a hodge-podge of federal
criminal statutes (Count N). See ECF 42 at 2-3;
see Id. at 44-106.
the defendants have moved to dismiss; six motions are
pending. First, Arcuri, Basora, Feraud, and De-La-Borderie
have filed a motion to dismiss (ECF 46), pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6),
supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 46-1) (the
“Arcuri Motion”) and one exhibit. ECF 46-2.
Second, GE filed a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rules 8(a)
and 12(b)(6) (ECF 47), supported by a memorandum (47-1) (the
“GE Motion”), and one exhibit. ECF 47-2. Third,
Yoh and Jennings, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), have filed a
motion to dismiss (ECF 48), supported by a memorandum (ECF
48-1) (the “Yoh Motion”) and one exhibit. ECF
48-2. Fourth, MetLife, Hall, Brault, Calmie, Ayanna, and
Murray filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF 52)
(the “MetLife Motion”), supported by one exhibit.
ECF 52-1. Fifth, Bon Secours filed a motion to dismiss under
Rules 8 and 12(b)(6) (ECF 53), supported by a memorandum. ECF
53-1 (the “Bon Secours Motion”). And, sixth,
Sedgwick, Ansel, and Lue have filed a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6). ECF 54 (the “Sedgwick Motion”).
opposes the motions. ECF 58 (“Opposition”).
Defendants have replied. ECF 60; ECF 61; ECF 62; ECF 63; ECF
hearing is necessary to resolve the pending motions.
See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I
shall grant the motions. ECF 46; 47; ECF 48; ECF 52; 53 ECF
hired plaintiff on or about November 7, 2016, to serve as a
Lead Repair Development Engineer for GE Grid Solutions. ECF
8-1, ¶ 2 (“Memorandum of Plaintiff”); ECF
8-4 (“GE Offer Letter”). The position was
home-based, meaning plaintiff would work remotely from his
home in Baltimore, Maryland. ECF 42 at 5. According to his GE
Offer Letter, plaintiff reported to Pierre Feraud, the Senior
Services Staff Manager at GE Grid Solutions. ECF 8-4. And,
Cinthia Arcuri served as plaintiff's Human Resources
December 2016, plaintiff became ill and was later diagnosed
with stage II colon cancer. ECF 8-1, ¶ 3. On February
10, 2017, he was “approved for Short Term Income
offered and administered by GE/Sedgwick.” Id.
¶ 9. During his treatment, plaintiff alleges that he
began to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(“PTSD”) and depression. Id.
November 2017, and through mid-January 2018, plaintiff
explored with Mr. Feraud, Mr. De-La-Borderie, Ms. Basora, and
Ms. Arcuri the possibility of returning to work. ECF 8-14;
ECF 8-15. During these conversations, plaintiff alleges that
he requested that GE agree to a lifting restriction on his
work and approve the use of a service dog. See ECF
1-3 at 170. In a conference call with GE on January 12, 2018,
plaintiff alleges that he “was told that no
accommodation would be made.” ECF 8-1, ¶ 28.
Further, plaintiff alleges that GE told him that he would be
terminated unless he produced a doctor's letter stating
that he had no work restrictions. Id. GE terminated
plaintiff in January or February of 2018. Id.
(alleging discharge in January 2018); see ECF 17
(EEOC Charge) (alleging discharge in February 2018).
GE no longer employed plaintiff, MetLife continued assessing
whether plaintiff was eligible for long-term disability
(“LTD”) benefits under the GE Long Term
Disability Income Plan for Salaried Employees (“GE
Plan”). ECF 8-1, ¶ 36. However, an issue arose as
to whether plaintiff held a college degree, which was
relevant to whether, according to MetLife's Labor Market
Survey (“LMS”), he was totally disabled.
Id. ¶ 37; see ECF 8-25. According to
plaintiff, he received the following email on May 4, 2018,
from MetLife employee Christopher Murray, ECF 8-25:
We took your educational information from the LTD application
that you completed in order to receive benefits. You circled
on the attached form that you had a college degree and that
the highest grade completed was 16. That amounts to a
Bachelor's Degree. Are you now indicating that this
information that you provided to Metlife is untrue? Please
provide an explanation for this information, as I will need
to discuss with claims management team. We may need to
conduct a 2nd Labor Market Survey.
allegedly determined on May 23, 2018, that plaintiff did not
qualify for LTD benefits because he was not “totally
disabled” under terms of the GE Plan. ECF 8-8
(“Denial Letter”). GE explained to plaintiff that
MetLife's first LMS determined that he was not disabled.
Id. at 3. Because it was based on the assumption
that plaintiff had a bachelor's degree in electrical
engineering, a second LMS was performed. Id. at 4.
However, that analysis also determined that plaintiff had
employment opportunities in his local labor market.
Id. at 4. As a result, GE stated that “GE
Long-Term Disability Income Benefits are no longer payable,
” and therefore it would close plaintiff's claim.
Id. The Denial Letter informed plaintiff that he
“ha[d] the right to bring [a] civil action under
section 502(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 upon completion of two administrative appeals.”
Id. at 5.
appealed the denial, and the appeal was denied on June 8,
2018. ECF 8-9 (“First Denial Decision”). The
First Denial Decision was signed by MetLife Appeals
Specialist Mike Hall. Id. at 5. He stated, in part,
id. at 4-5:
The labor Market Survey (LMS) found 12 employers in your area
that had positions available that met your
limitations/restrictions and provided commensurate wages.
While you require a companion dog for travel, none of these
positions required travel. Upon learning that an erroneous
educational level had been used, the LMS vendor re-contacted
the employers. Ten out of the twelve employers indicated that
they would still consider you as a candidate without a
Bachelor's degree due to your wealth of experience. Since
the evidence available to us suggests that you are able to
engage in other occupations, we cannot find that you remain
totally disabled as defined by your Plan.
now suggesting that your disabling impairment is PTSD. Absent
any evidence regarding this disorder, we cannot determine
whether this condition is totally disabling or results in any
was again informed that he may “bring a civil action
under Section 502(a) of the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 as amended, ” but only after he
“exhaust[ed] [his] administrative appeal rights under
the Plan.” Id. Plaintiff filed a second
administrative appeal. See ECF 8-1, ¶ ¶
14-15. In a letter dated February 12, 2019, MetLife reversed
the first claim decision and reinstated plaintiff's
disability benefits under the GE Plan. ECF 20-8 (Feb. 12,
Jones filed the instant action in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City on December 12, 2018. ECF 1-3
(“Complaint”). The Complaint alleged employment
discrimination, violations of ERISA, and various tort claims
under Maryland law. ECF 1-3. On January 22, 2019, defendants
GE, MetLife, Sedgwick, and Yoh timely removed the State
action to this Court. ECF 1.
filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on February 14,
2019. ECF 17 (“Charge”). In his Charge, plaintiff
alleged, id. at 1:
I began my employment with the above-named Respondent in
November 2016, as a Lead Repair Development Engineer. I was
discharged in February 2018. I was not given a reason for the
difference in treatment.
I believe I was discriminated against because of my national
origin (American), age (52), and disabilities with respect to
Hiring and Discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, as amended, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended by the Americans with
Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.
Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint.
See ECF 18; ECF 20; ECF 21; ECF 24; ECF 26; ECF 28.
response, Mr. Jones filed a motion for the appointment of
counsel and for an extension of time to respond to the
motions to dismiss (ECF 39), supported by several exhibits.
ECF 39-2 to ECF 39-11. He asserted that he needed counsel to
articulate his claims and responses more clearly. ECF 39.
Further, he maintained that appointment of counsel would
result in the more efficient adjudication of this case.
Id. at 2. In light of the six pending motions, he
also requested a 90-day extension of the time to respond.
Id. at 4.
March 13, 2019, the Court denied plaintiff's request for
the appointment of counsel. ECF 41 at 1. However, the Court
granted plaintiff's request for an extension of time,
allowing him an additional ninety days to respond to
defendants' motions. Id. at 2.
on April 5, 2019, the EEOC dismissed plaintiff's Charge.
ECF 42-3. It said, id. at 2: “Having
considered all the information provided by you, your charge
was not timely filed with the EEOC.” On May 17, 2019,
plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint instead of an
opposition to the defense motions. In addition to
re-asserting the claims lodged in the original Complaint
against the same defendants, the Amended Complaint contains
additional ERISA violations and asserts eighteen criminal law
causes of action under Title 18 of the United States Code.
noted, defendants have moved to dismiss the Amendment
Complaint. ECF 46; ECF 47; ECF 48; ECF 52; ECF 53; ECF 54.
Standards of Review
Arcuri Motion, which moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint
for lack of personal jurisdiction, implicates Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2). ECF 46-1. “[A] Rule 12(b)(2) challenge raises
an issue for the court to resolve, generally as a preliminary
matter.” Grayson v. Anderson, 816 F.3d 262,
267 (4th Cir. 2016). Under Rule 12(b)(2), the burden is
“on the plaintiff ultimately to prove the existence of
a ground for jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence.” Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676
(4th Cir. 1989); see Grayson, 816 F.3d at 267.
“the existence of jurisdiction turns on disputed
factual questions the court may resolve the [jurisdictional]
challenge on the basis of a separate evidentiary hearing, or
may defer ruling pending receipt at trial of evidence
relevant to the jurisdictional question.”
Combs, 886 F.2d at 676. In its discretion, a court
may also permit discovery as to the jurisdictional issue.
See Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 64
(4th Cir. 1993). However, neither discovery nor an
evidentiary hearing is required in order for the ...