Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Aerospace/Defense
Menkes v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am.
Plaintiffs, employed by defense contractor Qinetiq to work on a military base in Iraq, were enrolled in Qinetiq’s Basic Long Term Disability, Basic Life, and Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance policies, governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001, under a single contract with Prudential. Qinetiq paid the premiums. Plaintiffs also purchased, with their own funds, supplemental coverage under the same terms as the basic policies; there was a single summary plan description. An employee would file a single claim for basic and supplemental coverage benefits. The plan booklets provided that loss is not covered if it results from war, or any act of war, declared or undeclared. These exclusions applied to both the basic and supplemental policies. The plaintiffs were not otherwise uninsured for excluded injuries. Qinetiq obtained insurance required by the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. 1651. After Prudential denied claims, the plaintiffs sued, alleging violations of the state consumer fraud acts and the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act; breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and intentional or negligent misrepresentation or omission. They contended that Prudential fraudulently induced them to buy supplemental coverage knowing that any claim they filed would likely be subject to the war exclusions, rendering supplemental coverage effectively worthless. The district court dismissed, treating the basic and supplemental policies as components of a single plan, and holding that all state law claims were preempted by ERISA. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the supplemental coverage cannot be “unbundled” from ERISA coverage.View "Menkes v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am." on Justia Law