United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gary Anthony brought this action against defendants District
Lodge 1, a union affiliated with the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
("IAM"), and the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers National Pension Fund
("IAM National Pension Fund" or the
"Plan"). Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. He alleges that
defendants violated the terms of the Plan and breached their
fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §
1001 et seq., when they failed to include him as a
participant under the Plan and denied him benefits.
Count I, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated the terms
of the Plan by denying him eligibility as directed by the
"documents and instruments governing the Plan."
Compl. ¶¶ 13-16. In Count II, plaintiff alleges
that defendants owed him a fiduciary duty under ERISA to
"observe and follow the governing terms" of the
Plan, and that they breached those duties. Id.
Lodge 1 has moved to dismiss both counts pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). It argues that plaintiff
has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that
District Lodge 1 is a fiduciary as defined under the statute,
see Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss & Supporting Mem.
of Law [Dkt. # 11] ("Def.'s Mot."), and the
because fiduciary status is only a required element under
Count II, the Court will only grant defendant's motion to
dismiss as to Count II and it will deny the motion as to
Count I. Therefore, plaintiffs ERISA claim for violation of
the terms of the Plan will go forward.
District Lodge 1 is a union affiliated with the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Compl.
¶ 3. According to the complaint, plaintiff was employed
as an "Organizer" by District Lodge 1 from May 2004
until January 2012, when he became a "Grand Lodge
Representative, " a position he continues to hold.
Id. ¶ 2. IAM National Pension Fund is a
multi-employer defined benefit pension plan, and District
Lodge 1 is a "Contributing Employer" to the fund.
Id. ¶¶ 3-4, 8.
Lodge 1 and the trustees of the IAM National Pension Fund
executed a series of written Participation Agreements, which
governed the union's participation in the Plan. Compl.
¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges that the agreements
"obligated" defendants to provide coverage and make
contributions for all District Lodge 1 employees, including
sought participant status under the Plan in order to gain
eligibility for the payment of pension benefits, but he was
unsuccessful. See Compl. ¶ 12. He exhausted
"all internal Plan remedies, " including the
appeals process, during which the Plan's appeals
committee determined that plaintiff was not eligible to
participate in the IAM National Pension Fund. Id.;
see also Ex. A to Pl.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot.
[Dkt. # 14-1] ("Denial Letter").
26, 2017, plaintiff filed this action, Compl., and on August
24, 2017, defendant IAM National Pension Fund filed an
Answer. Answer [Dkt. # 10]. On the same day, defendant
District Lodge 1 filed a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. Def'sMot. The motion is fully
survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal quotation marks omitted); accord Bell Atl Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In Iqbal,
the Supreme Court reiterated the two principles underlying
its decision in Twombly: "First, the tenet that
a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."
556 U.S. at 678. And "[s]econd, only a complaint that
states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss." Id. at 679.
is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content
"allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. at 678. "The plausibility standard is not
akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it asks for
more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. A pleading must offer more
than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, "
id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court is bound to construe a complaint liberally in the
plaintiffs favor, and it should grant the plaintiff "the
benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16
F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Nevertheless, the Court
need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those
inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint,
nor must the Court accept plaintiffs legal conclusions.
See id; Browning v. Clinton,292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C.
Cir. 2002). In ruling upon a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, a court may ordinarily consider only "the
facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as
exhibits or ...