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Guest PBJ
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Please allow me to preface this email by saying I am not a litigator and rarely deal with such matters so I could really use some help.

A question arose involving a participant who was denied long-term disability benefits. After exhausting the administrative remedies in the plan he is looking to sue. While the participant was working for the company he lived in VA but worked in WVA. At the time the participant's claims were denied, and currently, he lives in PA. Can the participant sue in federal court in PA?

Thank you.

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Please allow me to preface this email by saying I am not a litigator and rarely deal with such matters so I could really use some help.

A question arose involving a participant who was denied long-term disability benefits. After exhausting the administrative remedies in the plan he is looking to sue. While the participant was working for the company he lived in VA but worked in WVA. At the time the participant's claims were denied, and currently, he lives in PA. Can the participant sue in federal court in PA?

Thank you.

Generally, you file suit where the defendant resides which would not be PA as the plan is probably WVA. You would file in the Federal District Court in WVA.

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Possibly. It depends on whether any of the other participants in the plan worked in PA for the employer and earned benefits rights under the plan from their work in PA. There is a federal district court decision from Idaho that I'm aware of that addresses this in the 401k context: Ingalls v Mobile Corral Inc. Sorry I don't have a cite readily handy for it.

John Simmons

johnsimmonslaw@gmail.com

Note to Readers: For you, I'm a stranger posting on a bulletin board. Posts here should not be given the same weight as personalized advice from a professional who knows or can learn all the facts of your situation.

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Possibly. It depends on whether any of the other participants in the plan worked in PA for the employer and earned benefits rights under the plan from their work in PA. There is a federal district court decision from Idaho that I'm aware of that addresses this in the 401k context: Ingalls v Mobile Corral Inc. Sorry I don't have a cite readily handy for it.

To eliminate the jursidictional aspects of the case such as "fourm non convienens" and concentrate on the merits of the case, it is safe to file in the jurisdiction where the defendant is domiciled unless the defendant is "doing business" in the state where you intend to file.

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You can file in the federal courts of the state where the plan administrator is domiciled, or in the federal courts of any other state where the plan is administered, including in the federal courts of any state where employees worked for the employer and earned benefit rights under the plan.

A defendant can mount a forum non conveniens challenge if outside the federal district where the defendant is domiciled. However, the court weighs the inconvenience to both litigants and often finds that it would be a greater burden to an employee or former employee to litigate from a distance than it would be for the plan administrator, who presumably has more resources. Also factored is that the extra cost to the employee of long-distance litigation might possibly take all of an eventually-won award of benefits, as compared to the litigation being conducted local to where the employee might be.

John Simmons

johnsimmonslaw@gmail.com

Note to Readers: For you, I'm a stranger posting on a bulletin board. Posts here should not be given the same weight as personalized advice from a professional who knows or can learn all the facts of your situation.

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