United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING 8/20/17 REPORT AND
F. Cox United States District Court Judge
Shirley Walton filed this action against Defendant Unum Life
Insurance Company of America in state court, alleging that it
wrongfully denied her claim for life insurance benefits.
Defendant removed the action to this Court.
the parties filed cross-motions for judgment, based on the
administrative record. In her motion, Plaintiff argued that:
1) “‘Evidence of Insurability' was Not
Required Since Plaintiff Did Not Elect For Life Insurance
Coverage in Excess of $25, 000.00 for Mr. Walton” and
2) “Alternatively, Mr. Walton Was Not Suffering From a
Critical Health Condition at the Time Plaintiff Elected
Coverage.” (D.E. No. 12 at Pg ID 926).
cross- motions were referred to Magistrate Judge Steven
Whalen for issuance of a report and recommendation under 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
August 20, 2017, Magistrate Judge Whalen issued a Report and
Recommendation (D.E. No. 14) (the “R&R”)
wherein he recommends that this Court grant Defendant's
motion and deny Plaintiff's motion.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), a party objecting to the recommended
disposition of a matter by a Magistrate Judge must filed
objections to the R&R within fourteen (14) days after
being served with a copy of the R&R.
properly object to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, however, the objecting party must do more
than simply restate the arguments set forth in that
party's motion for summary judgment:
As an initial matter, to properly object to the R&R,
Plaintiff must do more than merely restate the arguments set
forth in her summary judgment motion. See Owens v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 1:13-47, 2013 WL 1304470, a *3
(W.D. Mich. Mar. 28, 2013) (indicating that the “Court
is not obligated to address objections [which are merely
recitations of the identical arguments made before the
magistrate judge] because the objections fail to identify the
specific errors in the magistrate judge's
proposed recommendations”) (emphasis in original);
see also Camardo v. Gen. Motors Hourly-Rate Emps. Pension
Plan, 806 F.Supp. 380, 382 (W.D. N.Y. 1992) (recitations
of nearly identical arguments are insufficient as objections
and constitute an improper “second bite at the
apple”); Nickelson v. Warden, No. 1:11-cv-334,
2012 WL 700827, at *4 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 1, 2012)
(“[O]bjections to magistrate judges' reports and
recommendations are not meant to be simply a vehicle to
rehash arguments set forth in the petition.”).
Senneff v. Colvin, 2017 WL 710651 (E.D. Mich. Feb.
23, 2017); see also Owens, supra, at *3 (explaining
that “objections” that simply rehash the
arguments presented to and rejected by the magistrate judge
“undermine the purpose of the Federal Magistrate's
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636, which serves to reduce duplicative
work and conserve judicial resources.”).
Plaintiff filed Objections to the R&R on August 31, 2017,
wherein she: 1) “Objects to the Magistrate's
Finding that the ‘Evidence of Insurability' is
Separate from the ‘Delayed Effective Date of
Coverage'”; and 2) “Alternatively, Plaintiff
Objects to the Magistrate's Finding That Mr. Walton Was
Suffering From a Critical Health Condition at the Time
Plaintiff Elected Coverage.” (D.E. No. 15 at Pg ID 964
& 966). Thus, in stating her objections to the R&R,
Plaintiff essentially restates the same arguments presented
to the magistrate judge in Plaintiff's motion.
Court concludes that Magistrate Judge Whalen properly
considered, and rejected, Plaintiff's argument that the
delayed effective date provision did not apply:
Plaintiff also argues that because a policy valued at $25,
000.00 or less did not require proof of insurability, the
delayed effective date provision did not apply, and she is
entitled to benefits regardless of whether Mr. Walton had a
pre-existing life threatening condition on July 1st. That
argument is without merit. Again, ERISA plans are reviewed
subject to principles of contract law, and “ERISA
plans, like all contracts, must be read as a whole.”
Candeub v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, 577
F.Supp.2d 918, 933 (W.D. Mich. 2006). The delayed effect date
provision regarding life-threatening-conditions is
unambiguous, and is separate from and not dependent upon the
provision for proof of insurability. The Policy's
Enrollment Form contained the following acknowledgment,
signed by the Plaintiff:
“I understand that any coverage I am requesting is
subject to all the terms of the policy including any
exclusions, and provisions requiring the submission of
Evidence of Insurability and approval by Unum, and
any provision specifying a Delayed Effective Date in the
event that I am absent from work or an eligible dependent is
totally disabled on the date coverage would otherwise
begin.” (AR 28). (Emphasis added).
This acknowledgment makes clear that evidence of insurability
is a separate from the issue of a delayed effective date of
coverage, that is, whether at the time of the purported
effective date, a dependent is totally disabled ...