This article has been published in “The Advocate”, a monthly publication of the Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, March – April 2014 issue, @2014 by Steven J. Bruzonsky, Esq.
Updates On Various Types of Lien Issues
ERISA Liens – Statute of Limitations:
In Blood Systems v. Roesler, 2013 WL 5328150 (D.Ariz, Sept. 24, 2013) (No. 2:11-cv-02133-ROS), the Arizona District Court held that ERISA subrogation claims under ERISA §501(a) are subject to the A.R.S. §12-541(3) statute of limitations for employment contract actions based on employee handbooks or policy manuals that do not specify a time period in which to bring an action. In this case, the ERISA plan documents did not specify a statute of limitations period. Therefore, the Court granted Roesler’s Motion for Summary Judgment dismissing the ERISA plan’s subrogation reimbursement claim for payment of accident-related medical benefits as the one year statute of limitations period had expired.
In Heimeshoff v Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., No. 12-729 (12-16-2013), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations period stated in the Plan’s long term disability policy was applicable, and the Court affirmed the Second Circuit’s affirming of the district court’s dismissal of the case. Recognizing that ERISA does not provide a statute of limitations for actions under §502(a)(1)(B), the court explained that the limitations period provided by the most nearly analogous state statute applies. “Unless the limitations period is unreasonably short or there is a “controlling statute to the contrary,” - - - the Plan’s limitations provision must be given effect. “Under Connecticut law, the Plan was permitted to specify a limitations period expiring “[not] less than one year from the time when the loss insured against occurs.” The long term disability plan required that the employee file a lawsuit “within three years after “proof of loss” is due”; and the employee failed to file the lawsuit within this time. Note that the Court initially mentions that this contractual statute of limitations period is set forth in the insurance policy, and the Court thereafter simply refers to the ERISA “plan” as containing this contractual statute of limitations period. There was no discussion of whether or not the contractual statute of limitations period was set forth or incorporated by reference in the official plan document(s) adopted by authorized plan officials.