United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JANICE C. AMARA et al, individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
CIGNA CORP. AND CIGNA PENSION PLAN, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION OF RULING ON ENFORCEMENT AND
BOND ARTERTON, U.S.D.J.
August 16, 2019, the Court issued a ruling [Doc. # 579] (the
"Enforcement Ruling") that denied aspects of
Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Court Rulings and for
Sanctions [Doc. # 571] (the "Enforcement Motion").
Specifically, the Court ruled that Defendant Cigna was in
compliance with an earlier ruling [Doc. # 486] (the
"Methodology Ruling") that set forth the method for
converting already-paid lump sum retirement benefits into
annuities. (Enforcement Ruling at 3-4.) In reaching that
conclusion, the Court clarified and reiterated its prior
ruling that Cigna was to utilize the mortality tables and
interest rates in effect at the time the lump sum was
received. (Id.) Separately, the Court declined to
entertain a methodological dispute regarding the payment of
early retirement benefits because Plaintiffs had not pursued
that issue in their motions related to methodology, and the
Court also declined to consider arguments regarding
Cigna's February 26, 2019 Plan Amendment that Plaintiffs
made for the first time in reply briefing. (Id. at
August 23, 2019, Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration [Doc. #
580] of these aspects of the Court's Enforcement Ruling.
reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion is DENIED.
for reconsideration require the movant to set "forth
concisely the matters or controlling decisions which [the
movant] believes the Court overlooked in the initial decision
or order." D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c) 1. The Second
Circuit has explained that "[t]he major grounds
justifying reconsideration are 'an intervening change of
controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the
need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest
injustice.'" Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v.
Nat7 Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d
Cir. 1992) (quoting 18B C. Wright, A. Miller, & E.
Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure § 4478). This
standard is "strict," however, and reconsideration
should be granted only if "the moving party can point to
controlling decisions or data that the court
overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be
expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court."
Shrader v. CSX Tramp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d
Cir. 1995). If "the moving party seeks solely to
relitigate an issue already decided," the court should
deny the motion for reconsideration and adhere to its prior
support of their motion, Plaintiffs make four principal
arguments. First, Plaintiffs argue that the Enforcement
Ruling's order as to thec"year(s) to be
used to determine the interest rate and mortality table for
calculating the annuity value of the lump sum distribution
for purposes of determining the offset, '"
(Reconsideration Motion at 7 (quoting Enforcement Ruling at
3)), should be reconsidered because it "simply adopts
the 'Company Interpretation' that Cigna fabricated
after this Court's January 2016 and January 2017
methodology rulings" and because the "Court never
addresses the arguments Plaintiffs made about the reformation
that the Second Circuit affirmed requiring Cigna to provide
the 'full value5 of the A relief, the plain terms of
the 'the plan provisions' on the Applicable Interest
Rate, the regulations prohibiting use of 'lookback'
interest rates for present value calculations . . ., and the
language in the Section 204(h) notices that this Court
approved," (id.). Second, Plaintiffs argue that
it was error for the Court to treat their motion as to early
retirement benefits as foreclosed because Cigna "had an
obligation under Second Circuit precedent to seek
clarification or modification of the reformation and this
Court's orders," (id. at 11 (citing CBS
Broadcasting v. FilmOn.com, 814 F.3d 91, 99-100 (2016)),
and because "this Court invited Plaintiffs to file a
motion after refusing to hear Plaintiffs' arguments on
these issues until Cigna 'implement[ed] its
interpretation, "' (id. (citing Ruling on
Methodology for Calculating Attorneys' Fees [Doc. # 550]
at 1-2)). Third, Plaintiffs take the position that the Court
was wrong to "'decline to consider"'
arguments raised on reply related to Cigna's February 26,
2019 Plan Amendment '"to the extent that Plaintiffs
raise[d] a new issue.'" (Id. at 5 (quoting
Enforcement Ruling at 6).) Plaintiffs maintain that their
arguments as to Cigna's February 26, 2019 Plan Amendment
were properly raised because these arguments were intended
"to show that Cigna was continuing the strategy
expressly described in its 10-Ks and 10-Q's of applying
the 'Company's interpretation' to 'open
aspects' of this Court's orders." (Id.)
Fourth, Plaintiffs contend that reconsideration is necessary
because the Enforcement Ruling "does not address the
standards for deciding Plaintiffs' motion."
(Id., at 4.) To this point, Plaintiffs maintain that
their Enforcement Motion should have been governed by the
standards of an equitable decree and that Cigna as a
fiduciary was required to '"diligently attempt to
comply with the injunction in a reasonable manner' by
seeking clarification from the court," (id.
(citing CBS Broadcasting, 814 F.3d at 99-100)),
while Cigna has taken the position that the Enforcement
Motion was governed by the contempt standard, (id,
generally responds that Plaintiffs "fail to identify any
data or controlling decisions that the court overlooked in
the [Enforcement] Order" and that they "simply
rehash the same arguments they have made - and the Court has
rejected - for years, even citing to their own briefs as
support" as to most issues. (Def.'s Opp. [Doc. #
585] at 1.) Cigna also specifically addresses Plaintiffs four
arguments. First, Cigna opposes Plaintiffs'
Reconsideration Motion on the basis that the Enforcement
Ruling was correct on the merits, as "the Court did not
misinterpret its prior methodology orders (Dkts. 459, 485,
486, 507, 517) on interest rates/mortality tables" that
ordered "Cigna to convert the Part B amount already paid
from a lump sum to an annuity in the year that the Part B
amount was paid using the actual assumptions in place that
year." (Id. at 2.) Second, Cigna states that
the Court properly declined to entertain Plaintiffs'
argument as to early retirement benefits because Plaintiffs
"failed to timely object to the payment of remedy
benefits as of the later of the earliest retirement date
under Part A or the person's actual benefit commencement
date," noting that "[t]his 'later of approach
has not changed since Cigna's 2015 filings."
(Id. at 2.) Third, Cigna maintains that the Court
properly refused to consider Plaintiffs' argument as to
the February 26, 2019 Plan Amendment because it amounted to a
"new argument and new evidence" raised "for
the first time in Reply" and, further, "ha[d] no
bearing" on the Enforcement Ruling entered by the Court.
(Id. at 22.) Fourth, Cigna argues that the Court
properly explained the standards it was applying in the
Enforcement Ruling as it "interpreted and applied its
own prior orders, explained the reasons for its decision, and
concluded... that Cigna's approach was correct under the
A methodology ordered by the Court." (Id. at
Court agrees with Cigna that Plaintiffs are essentially
attempting to relitigate issues already decided.
Plaintiffs' Reconsideration Motion does not present any
previously overlooked decisions or facts, but instead
restates the arguments presented in their Enforcement Motion
and subsequent reply.
Plaintiffs insist that the Enforcement Ruling conflicts with
"the reformation that this Court ordered and the Second
Circuit affirmed in 2014," (Reconsideration Motion at
1), the Court cannot agree that it overlooked its previous
ruling on reformation, Amara v. CIGNA Corp., 925
F.Supp.2d 242 (D. Conn. 2012), or the Second Circuit's
opinion affirming that ruling, Amara v. CIGNA Corp.,
775 F.3d 510, 513 (2d Cir. 2014). Indeed, both of those
earlier rulings formed the basis of the very Methodology
Ruling that Plaintiffs sought to enforce. The Enforcement
Ruling necessarily considered and adhered to those earlier
rulings, as the Enforcement Ruling simply reexamined the
Methodology Ruling and reiterated the conclusions made there.
For the Court to agree that the Enforcement Ruling conflicts
with controlling authority would be to disturb the
Methodology Ruling itself. Plaintiffs' argument as to
controlling authority is thus unavailing.
Reconsideration Motion also fails to identify any facts that
the Court overlooked that would alter its conclusion.
Plaintiffs argue that the Court should reconsider the
Enforcement Ruling because it did not "address how named
Plaintiff Annette Glanz's or deposition witness Steven
Curlee's retirement benefits are being diminished by
Cigna's use of 'lookback' interest rates and
'outdated, 5 and unlawful, mortality tables."
(Reconsideration Motion at 1.) Plaintiffs had used these
beneficiaries as examples to show how the use of interest
rates and mortality tables in place at the time the lump sum
was received "would cut into 'the full value' of
the A relief." (Enforcement Motion at 26.) Although
the Enforcement Ruling did not discuss these specific
examples, they were presented in Plaintiffs' briefing
along with the demonstration of how these beneficiaries would
receive more compensation if the Court were to adopt the
methodology that Plaintiffs now advance. The Court was not
persuaded that this argument was relevant to enforcing the
methodology actually adopted, and so did not address
it in its ruling. Because the Court has previously considered
these facts, the Court has no need to reconsider these facts
argument as to Cigna's February 26, 2019 Plan Amendment
also fails to satisfy the standard for reconsideration.
Plaintiffs introduced their argument that the Cigna Plan
Amendment was "clearly contemptuous of the Class5 rights
under the reformation and the Court's methodology orders
and of this Court's authority to enforce its own
orders" on reply, (Pis.' Enforcement Reply [Doc. #
573] at 2), and, as such, the Court declined to consider this
argument "to the extent that Plaintiffs raise a new
issue," (Enforcement Ruling at 6 n.l). In doing so, the
Court considered whether the Cigna Plan Amendment had
relevance as to Plaintiffs' earlier arguments regarding
the annuitization of the offsets but otherwise foreclosed any
new argument that the Cigna Plan Amendment itself was
contemptuous and in violation of the Court's earlier
rulings. Such an approach was not manifestly unjust, as
arguments made in a reply brief cannot be used to broaden the
issues before the Court. See Knipe v. Skinner, 999
F.2d 708, 711 (2d Cir. 1993).
Plaintiffs assert that reconsideration is necessary on the
grounds that the Enforcement Ruling did not directly address
the standard of review, citing Beckford v.
Portuondo, 234 F.3d 128 (2d Cir. 2000), in support of
this argument. In Beckford, the Second Circuit
remanded a two-sentence summary judgment order and explained
that the decision was "too spare to serve as a basis for
[appellate] review." Id. at 130. The Court
explained that the district court must explain the standard
it applies to facts, and that it must set forth the
"legal theory forming the basis of the ruling."
Id. (quoting Atkinson v. jory, 292 F.2d
169, 171 (10th Cir. 1961)). The eight-page Enforcement Ruling
satisfied those requirements. In addressing what was
ultimately a purely legal question, the Court provided
references to its prior opinions and elaborated on the logic
behind its earlier conclusions. Thus, the Court has set forth
its "conclusions of law sufficient to permit appellate
review" of its Enforcement Ruling. Badgley v.
Santacroce, 815 F.2d 888, 889 (2d Cir. 1987).
Plaintiffs have not satisfied the strict standard for
reconsideration, and the Court will ...