Federal Express (“FEDEX”) thought their disability insurance plan was governed by ERISA, but attorneys Dell & Schaefer and the US Southern District Court of Florida disagree

Attorneys Dell and Gavidia filed suit against Federal Express (“FedEx”) on behalf of their client, Richard Bilheimer, in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, alleging that their client’s former employer Federal Express had breached the terms and conditions of the Federal Express Short-term Disability Plan by denying Mr. Bilheimer’s claim for disability benefits. Moreover, FedEx prevented Mr. Bilheimer from applying for long-term disability benefits as a result of denying his claim for short term disability benefits.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed in state court, FedEx removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, arguing that the short-term disability plan was an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), a federal law which governs most employer provided disability, health and life insurance plans.

Attorneys Gavidia and Dell moved to remand the case back to state court and claimed that the short-term disability plan fell within the “payroll practice” exception of 29 C.F.R. § 2510.3-1(b)(2) and was not governed by ERISA. Attorneys Gavidia and Dell also moved to recover attorney fees and costs against FedEx.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled in favor of Mr. Bilheimer, concluding in part, “[t]hat the payroll practice exception to ERISA applies and that remand is appropriate”¦.” The opinion issued in this case is a precedent setting case that will set new standards for the way group disability plans are structured by employers. A claimant is always at a disadvantage if their claim is governed by ERISA, therefore Attorneys Dell & Schaefer are always challenging the applicability of ERISA in all disability insurance claims. Fedex offers short and long-term disability insurance as an employee benefit for thousands of employees. This case is currently pending in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

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