ERISA – Where To Litigate The Case

ERISA cases are complicated, as any attorney handling ERISA cases can tell you.  This is exemplified in an April 2018, opinion from the U.S. District Court, Western Division, Austin Texas.  The opinion is styled, Kimberley Phillips v. Charter Communications, Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan. Charter filed a motion to transfer the case to the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  This court granted the motion. This ERISA plan contains a forum-selection clause (FSC) that states, “any legal action to appeal a denial of claims for benefits shall be brought in a federal court sitting within the Eastern District of Missouri.  Charter argues that the FSC is valid and controlling, warranting transfer.  Phillips, meanwhile, argues that the controlling document to this dispute is the Summary Plan Description (SPD) for the Charter  Short-Term Disability Program ( STD Program), which is a component program of the Plan.  The SPD contains a…

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