Leeson v. Transamerica Disability Income Plan, No. 10-35380 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a former employee of defendant, filed this action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., to challenge the termination of his long-term disability benefits. At issue on appeal was whether the district court erroneously relied on Curtis v. Nevada Bonding Corp. to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court agreed with plaintiff that Vaughn v. Bay Environmental Management, Inc. controlled in these circumstances. Whether plaintiff was a participant for purposes of ERISA was a substantive element of his claim, not a prerequisite for subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, the court vacated the dismissal and remanded for further proceedings because plaintiff asserted a colorable claim that he was a plan participant and satisfied the threshold for establishing subject matter jurisdiction.