Synergy Blog

From Roger Baron: 5th Circuit rules in favor of ERISA beneficiary and his wife where funds are in a structured settlement

Reprinted with Permission from Roger Baron

The 5th Circuit handed down ACS Recovery Services, Inc. v. Griffin today, April 2, 2012.  Mr. Griffin was seriously injured in an auto accident. The ERISA plan paid medical bills of $50,076.19.  The plaintiff’s attorney secured a settlement of $294,439.82 and arranged for a structured settlement annuity “in an effort to avoid any equitable lien assertion” by the ERISA Plan.  Mrs. Griffin received $40,000 for loss of consortium.  The ERISA plan sued Mr. Griffin and his wife, as well as the trustee and the trust designated to receive the annuity payments.  The trial court “dismissed the claims against all of the defendants.”  This decision by the 5th Circuit affirms that dismissal.  The dismissal as to Mr. Griffin and the trustee and the trust is appropriate because “no defendant ever had ‘possession’ of the disputed funds.”  The dismissal as to Mrs. Griffin is appropriate because the ERISA Plan lacks authority to “seek reimbursement out of an award for loss of consortium or out of an award made separately to a beneficiary’s spouse… This money was compensation paid to [Mrs.] Griffin for the loss of her husband’s society and companionship, not as compensation to [Mr.] Griffin for his injury.”

To view the opinion click HERE

TESTIMONIALS

“Synergy Lien Resolution Services just finished getting an ERISA lien dramatically reduced for me. I tried for months, asked for the plan etc., tried to understand it, to little avail. Synergy got it slashed way beyond what the carrier told me that they would ever agree to. It cost my client peanuts, benefited her huge. I won’t ever screw around with trying to get those reduced; from now on they all go to Synergy.”

Rick Kolodinsky
Rick Kolodinsky, P.A.

I wanted to pass my highest recommendation to Synergy who we routinely get involved in cases when Medicare issues come up, especially when dealing with Medicare Set Asides. Synergy went beyond the call of duty in a recent case that was settled and dealt one-on-one with our clients and their family. They spent time on the phone with them to be sure they got all their questions answered and did a fantastic job dealing with Medicare.

J. Daniel Clark
Clark Martino, P.A.

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