Big Score for ERISA Participants, Beneficiaries

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review Wurtz v. The Rawlings Company, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit held in July 2014 that New York’s antisubrogation law is “saved” by ERISA’s “saving clause” and applicable to health insurers providing coverage through ERISA plans.

ERISA expert Roger Baron, in commenting on the 2nd Circuit ruling penned by Circuit Judge John M. Walker Jr.,  said this was a “significant victory for ERISA participants and beneficiaries,” and pulled this quote from the decision where the court responded to the assertion that subrogation/reimbursement was required to uphold national uniformity under ERISA:

Hon. John M. Walker Jr.

Hon. John M. Walker Jr.

Allowing plaintiffs’ state-law claims under [New York statute] section 5-335 to proceed will not disturb ERISA’s goal of providing national uniformity. ERISA has strong preemptive provisions, the purpose of which are “to provide a uniform regulatory regime over employee benefit plans.” Davila, 542 U.S. at 208. But “ERISA says nothing about subrogation provisions. ERISA neither requires a welfare plan to contain a subrogation clause nor does it bar such clauses or otherwise regulate their content.” Member Servs. Life Ins. Co., 130 F.3d at 958 (internal quotation marks omitted). Because ERISA is silent on subrogation, our decision does nothing to disturb ERISA’s goal of national uniformity in employee benefit plan regulation.

 

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