Federal Court Decides Matter Involving ERISA and Tribal Court Jurisdiction

Here are the materials in Life Insurance Company of North America v. Hudson Insurance Company (E.D. Okla.):

16 Motion to Dismiss

18 Response

19 Reply

20 DCT Order

An excerpt:

LINA argues that tribal exhaustion does not apply to an ERISA case. The exhaustion of tribal remedies requirement was modified in El Paso Natural Gas Company v.  Neztsosie, 526 U.S. 473 (1999). In that case, the Supreme Court held that the tribal exhaustion requirement did not apply to a case involving the Price-Anderson Act, a statute with a broad preemptive scheme. LINA argues that the Northern District of Oklahoma has since held that like the Price-Anderson Act at issue in Neztsosie, ERISA preempts state and tribal court claims “related to benefit plans falling under its purview” and concluded that abstention would be inappropriate. Vandever v. Osage Nation Enterprise, Inc., No. 06-CV-380-GKF-TLW, 2009 WL 702776, at *5 (March 16, 2009 N.D. Okla.) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 1144). See also Coppe v. Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan, No. 14-2598-RDR, 2015 WL 1137733 (March 13, 2015 D. Kansas). This court agrees. 

Hudson argues, however, that Vandever is not controlling in this case because suits between insurers for reimbursement of benefits paid are not pre-empted by ERISA. Hudson is correct. Complete preemption under ERISA “is limited to claims brought under § 502(a), and that provision, in turn, is limited by its terms to claims ‘by a participant or beneficiary’ of an ERISA-regulated plan ‘to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the plan.’” Hansen v. Harper Excavating, Inc., 641 F.3d 1216, 1221-22 (10th Cir. 2011) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(1)(B)).