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Wanna v. Health Services of Central Georgia Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

July 16, 2018

FADY S. WANNA, Plaintiff,
v.
HEALTH SERVICES OF CENTRAL GEORGIA, INC et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Defendant Health Services of Central Georgia, Inc. (“HSCG”), employed Plaintiff from July 1, 2013, to September 30, 2015. In October 2016, HSCG announced that its employees would no longer be able to work for other facilities, a decision which Plaintiff claims would have eliminated 40% of his income. Based on this substantial income reduction, Plaintiff informed HSCG that he wished to terminate his employment for cause. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed suit in the Bibb County Superior Court, seeking relief for HGSC's alleged breach of Plaintiff's 2013 Employment Agreement and a declaration that he is not bound by the non-compete clause in the employment agreement. [Doc. 1-1].

         On June 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint [Doc. 1-3] in which he clarified the relief sought for his breach of contract claim. The amendment clarifies as follows:

         As explained the February 20, 2017 letter attached as Exhibit 3, Navicent is in breach of its contractual obligation to pay the following unpaid compensation to Dr. Wanna under the 2013 Employment Agreement [Doc. 26-2]:

1. “Severance Payments pursuant to Section 4(b)(1)” of [Doc. 26-2];
2. “pursuant to Section 3(a) [of Doc. 26-2] for the Management Incentive Plan ("MIP”) bonus earned in FY 2015 and unpaid”;
3. “pursuant to Section 3(b) [of Doc. 26-2] for the Senior Executive Retirement Plan (“SERP”) earned in FY 2015 and unpaid”;
4. “interest on the MIP and SERP” under [Doc. 26-2]; and,
5. “legal fees in the amount of approximately $26, 000 for which he seeks to be compensated with interest” “pursuant to Section 3(f) of the CMO Agreement” [Doc. 26-2].

Doc. 1-3.

         On April 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed his fourth amended complaint which stated, “Dr. Wanna's claim for his SERP benefits (provided for in Section 3(b) of his 2013 Employment Agreement) is made pursuant to [the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (“ERISA”)] and the Defendants are in breach of their obligations under ERISA.” [Doc. 1-10]. Subsequently, on May 25, 2018, Defendants, removed this case to federal court. [Doc. 1].

         Plaintiff now moves to remand this case on the basis that Defendants failed to timely remove. [Doc. 3]. Plaintiff contends that his breach of contract claim is completely preempted by ERISA and that Defendants knew or should have known that this case contained ERISA claims prior to the express inclusion of an ERISA count in his Fourth Amended Complaint. Defendants, on the other hand, argue that ERISA did not preempt this claim until Plaintiff specifically enumerated an ERISA cause ...


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