US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Swenson v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co.
Opinion Date: December 4, 2017
Areas of Law: ERISA
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims, holding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132, preempted state law claims. The court held that, although the savings clause preserves a role for certain state laws that regulate insurance, state claims that provide a separate vehicle for seeking benefits from an ERISA plan remain preempted as such claims must be brought under ERISA's civil enforcement provision. The court explained that, otherwise, the exclusivity and uniformity of that federal remedy would be undermined. In this case, because plaintiff's claim for benefits must be brought under federal law, the district court correctly dismissed her state law claims seeking the same relief. Furthermore, the availability of that statutory remedy under section 502 of ERISA also defeated plaintiff's claim for equitable relief under federal law.
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