Little River ERISA Suit against Blue Cross Proceeds

Here are the materials in Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and its Employee Welfare Plan v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (E.D. Mich.):

14 Motion to Dismiss

19 Response

21 Reply

24 DCT Order

Little River Band Sues Blue Cross Blue Shield over Hidden Fees Assessed in Violation of ERISA

Here is the complaint in Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Its Employee Welfare Plan v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (W.D. Mich.):


Federal Court Holds ERISA Abrogates Tribal Immunity

Here are the materials in Coppe v. Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan (D. Kan.):

32 Motion to Dismiss

34 Opposition

37 Reply

47 DCT Order

An excerpt:

The statutory language of ERISA in 29 U.S.C. § 1002(32) demonstrates that Congress specifically intended for Indian tribes to maintain sovereign immunity for some employee benefit plans and to abrogate it for others. The language makes it clear that the exemption from the requirements of ERISA applies if all the employees in the plan established by an Indian tribe are “in the performance of essential governmental functions but not in the performance of commercial activities [whether or not an essential government function].”

Congress’s 2006 amendments to ERISA constitute an unequivocal waiver of sovereign immunity for tribal employee plans that perform commercialfunctions. Even before those amendments, circuit courts found ERISA applicable to Indian tribes whose employees performed non-governmental functions. Lumber Indus. Pension Fund v. Warm Springs Forest Prods. Indus., 939 F.2d 683 (9th Cir. 1991); Smart, 868 F.2d at 929.

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)).

Federal Court Holds Tribal Exhaustion Doctrine Does Not Apply to ERISA Claims

Here are the materials in Coppe v. Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan (D. Kan.):

9 Sac and Fox Motion to Dismiss

13 Response

14 Reply

15 DCT Order

An excerpt:

This case is now before the court upon a motion to dismiss or stay for failure to exhaust tribal remedies. The motion is brought by defendant Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan. This motion asks the court to rule as a matter of comity that before bringing a claim in this court, plaintiff must bring an ERISA action for recovery of insurance benefits under the casino’s nongovernmental plan in tribal court. We assume for purposes of this order that plaintiff is not a member of the Sac & Fox Tribe and that the Plan is not a “governmental plan” as defined in ERISA. We hold that Congress has preempted the tribe’s adjudicatory authority over ERISA claims and, therefore, exhaustion of tribal remedies is not required.

Federal Court Finds Tribal Pension Plan Fits Within ERISA Governmental Plan Provision

Here are the materials in Stopp v. Mutual of Omaha (E.D. Okla.):

DCT Order Granting Stopp Motion

Stopp Motion for Summary Judgment

Mutual of Omaha Response to Stopp Motion for Summary Judgment

Stopp Response to Mutual of Omaha Motion for Summary Judgment

Looks like the insurance company is the bad guy in this one.

Tenth Circuit Holds that ERISA Applies Retroactively to Indian Tribes

At issue in Dobbs v. Anthem BCBS is whether 2006 Amendments to ERISA that incorporate Indian tribal government retirement plans apply retroactively to the Southern Ute Tribe plan. The CA10 remanded to determine whether Southern Ute’s plan is  a “governmental plan.”

Here are the materials:

Dobbs CA10 Opinion

Dobbs Opening Brief

Anthem Brief

Dobbs Reply Brief

Southern Ute Amicus Brief in Support of Affirmance

District Court Refuses to Dismiss ERISA Claim against Tribal Business

Here are the materials in Vandever v. Osage Nation Enterprises, out of the Northern District of Oklahoma. The court rejected a magistrate report and recommendation to dismiss an ERISA claim against ONE and the Osage Nation, and also rejected a request by the Nation to require the plaintiff to exhaust tribal court remedies.



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