News & Resources

Yearly Archives: 2017

Keeping you informed is part of our mission.

Pilot Life Pushed ERISA’s Preemption Pendulum To The Top Of This Arc, But Didn’t Suspend The —–Law Of Gravity

Tue May 2nd, 2017 on     Articles,    

Congress’ stated purpose for enacting the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. (ERISA), was to “protect…participants in employee benefit plans and their beneficiaries…by establishing standards of conduct, responsibility, and obligation for fiduciaries of employee benefit plans, and by providing for appropriate remedies, sanctions, and ready access to the federal courts.” 1 Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Pilot Life Insurance Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41 (1987), the vast majority of lower courts have held state bad faith laws preempted by ERISA. This landmark decision removed the spectre of extracontractual damages as a remedy for bad faith conduct on the part of ERISA plan insurers, dramatically altering the remedies available to policyholders in disputes with group health and disability insurers. This federal statute has also been employed by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to preempt state causes of action for medical negligence, while providing no corresponding federal remedy permitting an award of compensatory damages. 2 Recent decisions by the Supreme Court and, the author suspects, the proliferation of unprincipled claims handling resulting from the judicial insulation of the insurance industry from state bad faith claims (and their associated extracontractual remedies) have led some lower courts to reevaluate ERISA’s preemptive reach. This article will plumb the current ERISA preemption landscape and conclude with an examination of Florida’s unique “bad faith” statute. We begin, however with some generally applicable principals. Preemption, for the moment, depends upon 1) the field of operation of the particular state bad […]

Super Lawyers
Florida Legal Elite
Top Lawyer - South Florida Legal Guide
Association of Corporate Counsel - South Florida Chapter
Back to top