Plan Administration Litigation

Seyfarth Synopsis: In light of a recent focus on price transparency, claims data, and hidden fees in the health plan world, employer-sponsored health plans have been bringing their fight to the courtroom in an effort to lower costs and demonstrate good fiduciary governance.

In the wake of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, as well as newly-issued transparency regulations, employers sponsoring group health plans now have access to (or should have access to) a bevy of data not previously available in the notoriously secretive space of health plan pricing. As predicted, this new era of information transparency has spurred a small but growing stream of lawsuits. Surprisingly though, the plaintiffs in these suits are plan sponsors (or their committees) in their role as plan administrator, as opposed to plan participants, and the defendants are health plan third-party administrators rather than the plans themselves. In light of these recent lawsuits, this post focuses on fiduciary considerations for health plans in this new era of fee and price transparency.

While each lawsuit filed to date has unique aspects, they all generally allege some combination of the following:

  • Failure to adequately and fully disclose payment data as required by law;
  • Imposition of hidden and unreasonable fees;
  • Breach of fiduciary duty; and
  • Claims mismanagement and overpayment.

Continue Reading Who Do I Need to Sue to Get a Decent Cup of Coffee? Jittery Fiduciaries Consider Options as Health Plan Litigation Froths Up

By: Mark Casciari and Michael Cederoth

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently rejected the application of the doctrine of equitable estoppel to prevent a plan trustee from enforcing the clear terms of the plan.  So, it bears repeating that drafters of ERISA plans are well advised to draft as clearly

By: Rebecca K. Bryant, Sam M. Schwartz-Fenwick, and Ian H. Morrison

Seyfarth Synopsis: A recent 10th Circuit decision holding that in order for the abuse of discretion standard to apply in litigation the claims administrator must provide participants with actual notice of discretionary authority or notice of a document affecting standard of review

By: Jon Karelitz and Mark Casciari

Synopsis:  A recent 4th Circuit decision reiterates the importance of aligning a plan fiduciary’s administrative claim and appeal review process with the standards for a “full and fair review” under U.S. Department of Labor regulations, including disclosing all documents considered in the course of determining a claim (absent compelling

Seyfarth Synopsis: In an unpublished yet fascinating decision, the California Court of Appeal held that ERISA § 514 preempts state law causes of action premised on wrongful disclosure of protected private health information. Although not-binding as precedent, the decision is noteworthy to Plan sponsors and administrators because it demonstrates the expansive preclusive effect of federal

Seyfarth Synopsis: A recent case from the Western District of North Carolina contains a helpful example of how the standards applicable to an employee’s request for accommodation of a disability differ from those for determining whether the same employee is eligible for benefits under a short-term disability plan. At the same time, it demonstrates the

By: Chris Busey, Tom Horan and Sam Schwartz-Fenwick

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Fourth Circuit found in favor of an insurer on a claim for life insurance benefits, finding the insured’s failure to submit the required evidence of insurability was not excused by his employer having wrongly deducted premiums for that coverage from his pay.

By, Jim Goodfellow and Sam Schwartz-Fenwick

Seyfarth Synopsis: In a win for ERISA plan and claims administrators, the Third Circuit has affirmed the broad enforcement of a long-term disability plan’s mental or nervous limitation period.

In Krash v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Group, No. 17-1814, the Third Circuit affirmed the judgment of the