ERISA Did Not Preempt A Court's Evaluation of State Law Damages

ERISA preemption cases can be pretty technical and, frankly, quite boring.  This case deserves mention for the novel argument made by the employee in his lawsuit for damages.  His lawsuit claimed that his employer or someone with the plan misrepresented facts about one of two benefits plan he was to choose between.  The fundamental problem with the employee's lawsuit is that he picked the richer benefit plan and suffered no damages as a result of the misrepresentation.  

To get around this problem, he claimed that that ERISA preempted the court from evaluating whether he suffered any damages.  (As an aside, I don't understand his argument and the court's opinion does not provide any elaboration.)  The court rejected the preemption argument holding that the court's evaluation of damages in this case is not preempted by ERISA because it did not implicate the structure or administration of the plan, did not affect the type of benefits offered or impose rules for calculating benefits.  To review this case, see Carroll v. Los Alamos Nat'l Security, LLC et al., 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 1267 (10th Cir. Jan. 19, 2011). 

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