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Pearce v. Chrysler Group LLC Pension Plan

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 27, 2017

Randy D. Pearce, Plaintiff,
v.
Chrysler LLC Pension Plan, Defendant.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis, Magistrate

          ORDER ADOPTING AND ACCEPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Randy D. Pearce (“Plaintiff”) originally filed this ERISA action against Defendant Chrysler LLC Pension Plan (“Defendant”) in Wayne County Circuit court. (Doc. # 1). Defendant subsequently removed the matter to this Court, based upon federal question jurisdiction on November 29, 2010. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Michael Hluchaniuk on April 6, 2011. (Doc. # 11). The parties had disputes concerning discovery and the administrative record. Based on Magistrate Judge Hluchaniuk's recommendation, this matter was remanded to the administrator for further development of the record. (Doc. # 26, 30).

         This case was later reopened after the administrative proceedings concluded. (Doc. # 33). On January 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint and a motion for judgment on the record. (Doc. # 38, 39). Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend complaint sought to include a claim for relief under ERISA § 502(a)(3), in addition to the claim already brought under § 502(a)(1)(B). Plaintiff later filed an amended motion for leave to amend the complaint. (Doc. # 50). These motions were referred to Magistrate Judge Hluchaniuk. (Doc. # 51). Defendant filed a response to Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the record, which the Magistrate Judge treated as Defendant's motion for judgment on the record. (Doc. # 45, 55).

         Magistrate Judge Hluchaniuk issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), wherein he recommended that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the record be denied, Defendant's motion for judgment on the record be granted, and Plaintiff's motions for leave to amend be denied. (Doc. # 55). These recommendations were adopted by the undersigned. (Doc. # 60).

         Plaintiff appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which reversed in part.[1] To the extent that the Sixth Circuit disagreed with the decisions below, it concluded that there was a conflict between the plan document and the summary plan description (“SPD”) and that Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint to add a claim under § 502(a)(3) was not futile. (Doc. # 64). As such, the Sixth Circuit noted that the existence of a material conflict between the SPD and the plan could support a claim for equitable relief. (Id. at Pg ID 1858-59, 1861-62).

         This case was reversed and remanded as to the § 502(a)(3) issue. Sometime thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's § 502(a)(3) claims. (Doc. # 72, Def.'s Mo.; Doc. # 73, Pl.'s Mo.). These motions were referred to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Doc. # 76).

         On February 14, 2017, Magistrate Judge Davis issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R), wherein she recommended that the Court DENY Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and GRANT Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 87, R&R). Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R on March 8, 2017. (Doc. # 89, Pl.'s Objs.). Defendant responded to Plaintiff's objections on March 22, 2017. (Doc. # 90, Def.'s Resp.).

         The Court finds Plaintiff's objections to be improper and without merit. The Court shall therefore ACCEPT AND ADOPT the R&R, DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 89), and GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 16).

         STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), a party objecting to the recommended disposition of a matter by a Magistrate Judge must file objections to the R&R within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy of the R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Objections must “(A) specify the part of the order, proposed findings, recommendations, or report to which a person objects; and (B) state the basis for the objection.” E.D. Mich. LR 72.1(d).

         Objections are not “a second opportunity to present the argument already considered by the Magistrate Judge.” Betancourt v. Ace Ins. Co. of Puerto Rico, 313 F.Supp.2d 32, 34 (D.P.R. 2004). Moreover, the district court should not consider arguments that have not first been presented to the magistrate judge. See Stonecrest Partners, LLC v. Bank of Hampton Roads, 770 F.Supp.2d 778, 785 (E.D. N.C. 2011).

         “The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the ...


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