ERISA Insurance Plan Cannot Recoup Benefits Against Insured’s Law Firm Says the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

The federal court of appeals for the 8th Circuit recently decided an important case addressing whether an insurance plan could recoup payments it made for an insured against the insured’s law firm after the insured recovered for his claims. The Eighth Circuit rejected the plan’s claims against the law firm.

In Treasurer, Trustees of Drury Industries, Inc., v. Goding; Casey & Devoti, P.C., (8th Cir., No. 11-2885, 9/7/2012), an ERISA plan attempted to recoup against an insured’s law firm the benefits it paid out for the insured’s treatment after the insured recovered in a civil claim related to a slip and fall accident. The insured filed and obtained a discharge of the plan’s claim through bankruptcy. The plan then sued the insured’s law firm from the slip and fall claim. The Eighth Circuit held that the plan could not recover against the insured’s attorney under the contractual subrogation provision of the contract with the insured because the attorney was not party to the plan. The court also rejected the plan’s theory under equity and a state cause of action for conversion against the law firm.

Here is a link to the Justia summary and the decision: