Claims for Breach of Employment Agreement Not Preempted by ERISA.

Position::PREEMPTION - Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio grants the motions by the plaintiff doctor to remand to state court and for costs related to the employment agreement dispute.

The plaintiff is a doctor who entered into an employment agreement with his employer. The agreement set forth his employment and compensation terms. The defendants include the employer and another doctor who were both parties to the employment agreement. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached the employment agreement by failing to compensate him and that the breach of contract and all other claims are based exclusively on the employment agreement and are not in any way preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

The plaintiff provided medical services to the defendants' patients for many years. After a period of time, the plaintiff requested certain financial documents in order to ensure that he was being properly compensated under the terms of the employment agreement. The defendants refused to provide the requested information. The plaintiff was subsequently terminated from employment. The plaintiff filed suit in state court against the defendants, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment and wrongful discharge. The case was removed to federal court by the defendants, who claim that the court has federal question jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims because they are preempted by ERISA.

The plaintiff argues that the state law claims he asserted are not preempted by ERISA because the rights he seeks to enforce arise from the employment agreement alone and not from an ERISA-governed plan. The defendants argue that removal in this case is proper because, among other relief, the plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid contributions to his 401(k) retirement plan. The plaintiff claims that the requested damages here arise from the defendants' failure to compensate him in accordance with the terms of the employment agreement and are limited exclusively to that agreement. The plaintiff also contends that all causes of action are based on state law and that there is no ERISA plan at issue.

An action is removable only if it could have initially been brought in federal court, per 28 USC Section 1441. The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests upon the removing party, i.e., the defendant. The well-pleaded complaint doctrine establishes that the plaintiff is the master of the complaint, that a federal...

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