Court Remands MEWA-Related Claim Based on Evidence that Employer Did Not Contribute Portion of Employee’s Premium
Earlier this week, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Arndt v. Concert Health Plan Ins. Co., No. 8:09-CV-1239-T-27TBM, 2010 WL 151966 (M.D.Fla. Jan. 18, 2010) remanded an action the claimant filed in state court seeking unpaid benefits.
The court in Arndt v. Concert Health Plan concluded that the claimant’s purchase of health insurance did not constitute the “establishment or maintenance of an employee benefit plan” within the meaning of ERISA because (1) the claimant submitted an affidavit that the employer did not contribute any portion to the claimant’s premium; and (2) Concert Health failed to show that the employer required the employee to participate.
For these reasons, the Court in Arndt v. Concert Health Plan granted claimant’s motion for remand, and held that Concert Health Plan failed to satisfy its burden of establishing that the regulatory safe harbor of 29 C.F.R. 2510.3-1(j) does not apply.
The court, however, based its decision only on the issue of remand, and expressly did “not reach the merits of preemption as an affirmative defense” before the state court, which would be based on a fuller record.