TODD M. BABIN, Plaintiff-Appellant
QUALITY ENERGY SERVICES, INCORPORATED Defendant-Appellee
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana
KING, DENNIS, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.
Babin worked for Quality Energy Services, Inc., until he
became disabled in 2012. He applied for short-term disability
benefits through Quality Energy's employee benefit plan.
His application was denied in February 2013. In February
2014, he requested documents regarding both the short- and
long-term disability plans, but he alleges that Quality
Energy never sent those documents to him. Babin ultimately
filed suit against Quality Energy and its disability insurer
in October 2015, alleging claims under the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 for failure to pay
benefits and failure to produce plan documents. The parties
settled the failure-to-pay-benefits claim, and Quality Energy
moved for summary judgment on the
failure-to-produce-documents claim. The district court
concluded that Babin's claim was time-barred and granted
summary judgment. On appeal, Babin argues that
Louisiana's ten-year prescriptive period for personal
actions should govern his claim for failure to produce
documents under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c). We conclude,
however, that Louisiana's one-year period for delictual
actions applies and that Babin's claim is time-barred. As
a result, we AFFIRM.
Babin, a resident of Louisiana, was an employee of Quality
Energy Services, Inc. ("Quality Energy"), a
Louisiana corporation. According to Babin's complaint,
his job involved repetitive tasks that triggered carpal
tunnel syndrome. Babin went through several surgeries to try
to repair his injuries. He underwent a right carpal tunnel
release in January 2011 and a left carpal tunnel release in
December 2011. Babin returned to work shortly afterwards, in
February 2012. Three months later, however, his employment
with Quality Energy ended.
participated in Quality Energy's employee benefit plan,
which provided short- and long-term disability benefits. The
parties agree that the plan was governed by the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") of 1974,
Pub. L. No. 93-406, 88 Stat. 829 (codified as amended in
scattered sections of 26 and 29 U.S.C.). In June 2012,
Babin's counsel requested, among other documents, a group
disability application form, which Quality Energy provided.
Babin then submitted a short-term disability benefits
application to Standard Insurance Company
("Standard"), Quality Energy's disability
February 25, 2013, Standard denied Babin's claim because
it had not received a necessary form from Quality Energy.
Babin alleges that he provided that form to Quality Energy,
which failed to complete it. About one year later, on
February 5, 2014, Babin's counsel asked Quality Energy to
provide copies of the short- and long-term disability plan
documents. Babin claims that Quality Energy did not send him
any plan documents before he filed this action. According to
Babin, when he applied for short-term disability benefits, he
was under the impression that the short-term disability plan
provided six months of benefits. Babin has since discovered
that the short-term plan only provides three months of
benefits. Had he known this earlier, he claims, he would have
applied for long-term benefits. In Babin's view, Quality
Energy's failure to produce the plan documents caused him
to miss the window for applying for long-term benefits.
filed this action against Quality Energy and Standard in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Louisiana on October 12, 2015-over one year and eight months
after requesting the plan documents. He alleged that Quality
Energy and Standard had failed to pay benefits due under the
plan, and that Quality Energy had failed to provide plan
documents, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c). The
parties settled the denial-of-benefits claim. Quality Energy
then moved for summary judgment on Babin's remaining
claim, arguing that it was time-barred. The district court
agreed. It held that Louisiana's one-year prescriptive
period for delictual claims applies to § 1132(c) claims
and that Babin's claim was time-barred. The court then
entered final judgment in favor of Quality Energy, which
Babin timely appealed.
court "review[s] a grant of summary judgment de novo,
applying the same standard as the district court."
Vela v. City of Houston, 276 F.3d 659, 666 (5th Cir.
2001). A court must enter summary judgment if "there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate where the undisputed
facts demonstrate that a claim is time-barred. See Ayers
v. Davidson, 285 F.2d 137, 139 (5th Cir. 1960); 10B
Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2734 (4th ed. 2016). The parties do not
dispute that Babin requested documents on February 5, 2014,
and began this lawsuit on October 12, 2015. Rather, the
parties dispute which prescriptive period applies to
Babin's claim and whether that period should be tolled.
We hold that the one-year prescriptive period applies and
decline to entertain Babin's tolling argument. As a
result, summary judgment is appropriate because Babin's
claim has prescribed even under his version of the facts.
Cf. Tex. Soil Recycling, Inc. v. Intercargo Ins.
Co., 273 F.3d 644, 650 (5th Cir. 2001) (affirming grant
of summary judgment where undisputed facts showed that
statute of limitations had run).
requires a plan administrator to produce plan documents upon
written request from a participant or beneficiary.
See 29 U.S.C. § 1024(b)(4). It also imposes
penalties on administrators who fail to produce the requested
documents within 30 days, see id. § 1132(c),
and authorizes participants and beneficiaries to sue
administrators for their failure to comply, id.
§ 1132(a)(1)(A). Because ERISA does not provide a
statute of limitations for claims under § 1132(c), the
court must "borrow the statute of limitations from the
most closely analogous state law." Lopez ex rel.