ERISA Liens Continue To Weaken

ERISA health insurance liens continue to lose ground following the Montanile decision. Here, a federal district court in George applies Montanile to dismiss an ERISA claim for pension benefits.

  1. Cannella v Boone

*In Cannella v. Boone, 2017 WL 2872423 (M.Dis. Ga. July 5, 2017), ERISA
Pension Plan sued widow to recover 22 months of pension benefits that were placed into her bank account by “direct deposit” following death of
husband. The ERISA Pension Plan brought two claims in federal court,
under ERISA 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(3) and also asserting a state law claim for conversion. Defendant widow, appearing pro se, did not file a response to the ERISA Pension Plan’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The trial court nonetheless applied the Montanile decision (ERISA provides no remedy where funds have been dissipated) and dismissed the ERISA claim. The court further exercised its discretion to dismiss the state law claim for conversion. Relevant language from the opinion follows:*

*The Court, having some concerns with the Trustees’ motion, scheduled a
hearing for April 18, 2017. At the hearing, counsel for the Trustees conceded that the Trustees have no meritorious claim for an ERISA remedy on these facts because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Montanile v. Board of Trustees of National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, 136 S. Ct. 651 (2016). The Trustees, though they have had the opportunity to do so, offer no reason why the ERISA claim should not be dismissed for this reason; accordingly, the ERISA claim is DISMISSED
without prejudice.*

  1. Conclusion

Since the 2006 Sereboff decision, ERISA plans seemed unstoppable, winning more ground with each case decision. Now with Montanile in 2016 plaintiffs have the means of fighting back. Needless to say, this is still a gray area of the law that is in dramatic flux at the moment. If you have an ERISA issue you should reach out to qualified counsel immediately.

Additional resources provided by the author

(Canella) http://files.constantcontact.com/850d9fbc501/fe0ca5ef-682f-449a-92dc-3e4e9255851f.pdf