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ERISA Will Affect Which Claims May Be Brought & Where They May Be Heard

Most disability plans that are employer-sponsored are governed by ERISA, which limits the type of claims that may be brought and allows the lawsuit to be heard in federal court.  In Burroff v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., (D.Kan. June 11, 2014) the plaintiff filed his lawsuit in state court and Hartford removed the case to federal court claiming ERISA preemption.  Because the plaintiff worked for the University of Kansas Hospital Authority, the disability plan that governed his claim was a “governmental plan” not subject to ERISA.  Accordingly, the federal court remanded the lawsuit to state court where the claim would be adjudicated.  If you work for a state or local government entity or hospital affiliated with a religious order, your disability plan may not be subject to ERISA which would ultimately affect the value of your potential claim.  The lawyers at Burke Harvey have represented several nurses with disability claims that were not subject to ERISA because they were participants in governmental plans.