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Stephen K. Bieber and Karen Bieber v. David J. Nace and Eastern Industries
December 13, 2011
STEPHEN K. BIEBER AND KAREN BIEBER, PLAINTIFFS
DAVID J. NACE AND EASTERN INDUSTRIES, INC., DEFENDANTS
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
AND NOW, this 13th day of December, 2011, upon consideration of the
motion in limine (Doc. 26) filed by plaintiffs Steven K. Bieber and
Karen Bieber ("the Biebers"), wherein the Biebers request that the
court strike the fifth affirmative defense of defendant David J. Nace
("Nace") (Doc. 8, at 18), and the fourth affirmative defense of
defendant Eastern Industries, Inc. (Doc. 11, at 18), both of which
assert that the Biebers' recovery of medical expenses may be reduced
or barred by provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial
Responsibility Law ("PMVFRL"), see 75 PA.
STAT. §§ 1720, 1722,*fn1
and wherein the Biebers
assert that they are members of a self-funded employee benefits plan
governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29
U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., that preempts operation of the PMVFRL, and upon
further consideration of the brief in opposition (Doc. 28) filed by
Eastern Industries, wherein Eastern Industries claims that the Biebers
have provided no support for their contention that Biebers' employee
benefits plan is an uninsured, self-funded plan with a right to
subrogation governed by ERISA (Doc. 28, at 5), and it appearing from
the affidavits and exhibits, submitted by the Biebers that the Biebers
are indeed members of an uninsured, self-funded employee benefits plan
subject to ERISA, (see Doc. 27, Ex. B; Doc. 29, Exs. A-C); see also
Walker v. Rose, 22 F. Supp. 2d 343, 348 (D.N.J. 1998) (accepting
declaration of plan administrator that plan at issue was self-funded,
ERISA governed plan), and that the Biebers' employee benefits plan
contains subrogation or reimbursement provisions, and liens have been
asserted against the Biebers by the third-party administrators of the plan, (see Doc. 29, at 5-7 &
Exs. C-F), and the court noting that ERISA broadly preempts state
regulation of employee benefits plans, see 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a)
(preemption clause), but does not preempt state laws governing
insurance, see 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(A) (savings clause), however,
ERISA makes clear that an employee benefits plan governed by ERISA
shall not be deemed an insurance company or insurer for purposes of
state laws regulating insurance companies or insurance contracts, see
29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(B) (deemer clause), and the court finding that,
pursuant to Supreme Court precedent, ERISA preempts operation of the
PMVFRL against a self-funded and uninsured employee benefits plan
governed by ERISA, see FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52, 64 (1990)
("Our interpretation of the deemer clause makes clear that if a plan
is insured, a State may regulate it indirectly through regulation of
its insurer and its insurer's insurance contracts; if the plan is
uninsured, the State may not regulate it.");*fn2
also Bill Gray Enterprises, Inc. Employee Health and Welfare Plan v.
F.3d 206, 212-13 (3d Cir. 2001), and the court therefore concluding
that the PMVFRL cannot operate to reduce or bar the Biebers' recovery
of medical expenses in the above-captioned matter, it is hereby
1. The motion in limine (Doc. 26) is GRANTED.
2. The fifth affirmative defense in the answer of defendant David J. Nace (Doc. 8, at 18) is STRICKEN.
3. The fourth affirmative defense in the answer of defendant Eastern Industries, Inc. (Doc. 11, at 18) is STRICKEN.
4. ERISA preempts the PMVFRL from operating to bar or reduce the recovery of medical expenses by the Biebers in the instant action. See FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52 (1990).
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States ...
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