Court Sides with Murphy Anderson Client, Holding Claim Preclusion Applies in ERISA Case

May 16, 2018

In Kristine Guariglia v. Local 464A United Food and Commercial Workers Union Welfare Service Benefit Fund, 2:18-cv-00002-SDW-SCM (D.N.J. May 16, 2018), the firm obtained dismissal of a participant’s claim that the benefit fund improperly denied her medical coverage under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) after she lost her personal injury trial against the parties responsible for her injuries, despite the plan’s exclusion of coverage for expenses for which a third party is responsible. The Court found that claim preclusion barred the participant’s suit, because the participant had filed and lost a previous suit--before the personal injury trial--seeking payment of the same expenses. The Court found that the intervening jury verdict in favor of the responsible third parties was not a relevant material fact that defeated the application of claim preclusion, and thus that the participant could not pursue her claim against the fund.

Murphy Anderson serves as General Counsel to the defendant, which is a Taft-Hartley welfare fund offering medical, dental and vision benefits to more than 20,000 employees in the retail grocery industry in New Jersey. Joni S. Jacobs and Michelle Cassorla represented the fund in this matter, with assistance from Charlie Sinks.