House Moves to Strengthen Subrogation Rights

The House of Representatives is trying to limit the right of tort victims again.

This time, the effort is to give even greater power to holders of ERISA subrogation interests.

The House has passed a pension bill (H.R. 2830) that included this language:

“(a) In General- Section 502(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1132(a)) is amended by adding, after and below paragraph (9), the following new sentence:
`Actions described under paragraph (3) include an action by a fiduciary for recovery of amounts on behalf of the plan enforcing terms of the plan that provide a right of recovery by reimbursement or subrogation with respect to benefits provided to or for a participant or beneficiary.'”

The Senate-version of a pension reform bill, S.B. 1763, has no such provision.

The intent of the language in the House bill is to increase the power of an ERISA-qualified plan to seek subrogation or reimbursement under the plan. Several federal circuit appellate courts have limited the rights of plans under current law, and the United States Supreme Court is considering the issue right now.

A conference committee will be appointed to address the differences in the two bills. I will let you know who is on that committee when it is appointed.

ATLA is compiling compelling stories about how your clients’ rights would have been affected if the proposed provision is adopted in the conference. Please include your client’s name, state, a short summary of the facts, the amount of damages awarded, and whether the case was appealed or is pending on appeal. Please send a write-up of your case to Kathryn Clark at