10.09.2006

D.N.J. Notes Split Re Whether ERISA Preempts State Law on the Issue of Substantial Compliance

Per Garvin v. A.B., Slip Copy, 2006 WL 2830966 (D.N.J. 2006):

Plaintiff claims that he is entitled to the life insurance proceeds of the policies at issue because Decedent substantially complied with the requirements of the insurance policies to change the beneficiary and made every reasonable effort to effectuate such a change. The insurance plan at issue is governed by ERISA, which preempts "any and all State laws insofar as they may not or thereafter relate to any employee benefit plan" subject to ERISA. 20 U.S.C. ยง 1144(a). There is a split among the Circuits regarding whether ERISA preempts state law on the issue of substantial compliance. [FN1]

FN1. The Ninth and Tenth Circuits have determined that ERISA does not preempt state law regarding substantial compliance. The Fourth and Seventh Circuits have determined that ERISA does preempt state law on this issue and have applied federal common law to address such disputes.

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