Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Supreme Court Approves of Contractual Limitation Period for Filing Suit Under ERISA

Supreme Court of the United States Seal

Supreme Court of the United States Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

In a unanimous opinion issued December 16, 2013, and authored by Justice Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co.,  571 U.S. __ (2013), No. 12-729, that an appeal of a denial of disability benefits was untimely under the terms of the group long term disability plan.  The court noted that ERISA does not contain its own statute of limitations governing judicial review of plan determinations.  However, so long as the limitations provision in the plan is reasonable, and there is no controlling statute to the contrary, courts should enforce plan limitations periods. In this case, the limitations provision stated that any suit to recover benefits denied must be filed within three (3) years after the filing of the proof of loss. The plaintiff in this case filed suit well after the three (3) period.