District Court Grants Aetna Life Insurance Company’s Motion To Reconsider

Hall v. NewMarket Corporation, _ F.Supp.2d _, 2010 WL 3883428 (S.D. Miss. Sept., 29, 2010).

Roy H. Liddell and Kevin A. Rogers represented Aetna Life Insurance Company in this case in which the plaintiff (seeking reimbursement for a double lung transplant) asserted causes of action under state law for equitable estoppel, promissory estoppel, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress against NewMarket Corporation and Aetna Life Insurance Company. The plaintiff was a participant under an ERISA-governed employee benefit plan through her employer, NewMarket Corporation, until she stopped paying for coverage in 2004, but had sought benefits under the NewMarket Plan for a surgical procedure performed in 2007. The district court initially held that the plaintiff’s claims arising out of representations made to her regarding coverage under the NewMarket Plan were not preempted by ERISA, since the plaintiff was no longer a participant under the ERISA plan when these representations were made.

Aetna filed a motion to reconsider. The district court concluded that, in its prior opinion, it had incorrectly analogized the plaintiff’s claims to cases involving third party health care providers. Upon reconsideration, the district court concluded that this line of authority was not applicable. The district court concluded that the plaintiff’s claims were premised upon the existence of an ERISA plan and directly implicated administration of benefits under the ERISA plan. Consequently, the plaintiff’s state law claims were preempted by ERISA and were dismissed.

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