Synergy Blog

From Roger Baron: State court’s authority to approve minor’s tort settlement NOT preempted by ERISA

Reprinted with Permission from Roger Baron

In the Matter of O.D. v. Ashley Healthcare Plan, 2013 WL 5430458 (9/27/13), the ERISA plan which had paid $33,683.58 for a minor’s medical bills (for personal injuries sustained in motor vehicle accident) removed the minor’s petition seeking approval for settlement of claim of minor from the Chancery Court of Pontotoc County, Mississippi.  This decision grants the plaintiff’s Motion to Remand.

The Court notes, at *5, that the petition for approval of settlement of claims,

does not affirmatively allege a federal claim… It is well settled law that a case may not be removed to the federal court on the basis of a federal defense, including the defense of pre-emption, even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff’s complaint, and even if both parties concede that the federal defense is on the only question truly at issue.

As to the suggestion that ERISA preempts state law related to the ability of state court to approve a minor’s settlement, the Court holds at *4,

The Court finds, based on the above-cited cases, and an understanding of Congress’ intent with regard to preemption and those areas traditionally regulated by the states, that Plaintiff’s claim for approval of the minor’s settlement are not preempted by ERISA.

To view the opinion click HERE

TESTIMONIALS

"I recently engaged Synergy to assist with a complicated PTD settlement involving a substantial Medicare Set Aside. The claimant’s wife has been providing full time attendant care which is not Medicare covered. The Synergy nurse was able to do a full analysis of non-Medicare covered expenses which far exceeded the value of the MSA analysis performed by the carrier’s contracted MSA provider. The non- Medicare figures became the main focus of the settlement negotiations and more than doubled the value of the case. Although I could estimate the attendant care figures, the nurse added in other items that I would not have routinely considered. I also asked Synergy to evaluate the EC’s MSA as well as their prescription review. Synergy offered insight about the prescription donut hole which I did not have a clear understanding about. Again, their insight and information added a great deal of value to the overall settlement. Not only did I learn from Synergy but was able to educate my clients in the process. These are very complex and complicated areas; I will use Synergy again and again!"

Rosemary Eure
Lancaster & Eure

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John D. Ayers, Esq.
Marks & Harrison, P.C.

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