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Northern Group Services, Inc v State Farm, et al; (USD-PUB, 6/11/1986; RB #1051)

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United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; Civ. No. 85-75383  
Judge Anna Diggs Taylor; Memorandum Opinion and Order; Published  
Official Federal Reporter Citation:  644 F Supp 535; Link to Opinion alt   


STATUTORY INDEXING:  
Coordination with Other Health and Accident Medical Insurance [§3109a]  
Coordination with ERISA Plans [§3109a]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA – 29 USC Section 1001, et seq.)    


CASE SUMMARY:  
In this reported Memorandum Opinion and Order, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the coordination of benefits provision of §3109a of the No-Fault Statute was preempted by the federal ERISA law to the extent that the Michigan law would elevate ERISA plans to a primary liability status over coordinated no-fault insurance policies. .

The ERISA plans involved in this case contained typical clauses that provided, "if your state has a no-fault motor vehicle law, the coverage required by the state is considered primary for motor vehicle related medical expenses... any eligible expenses which are not paid by that carrier will then be considered for payment by [ERISA plan]. The [ERISA] plan is considered secondary for no-fault motor vehicle expenses."

The Federal Court held that no-fault policies which contained coordination of benefits clauses purporting to make the no-fault carrier secondary to other health and accident coverages are not enforceable against ERISA employee benefit plans so as to make those plans primary. Because Congress has demonstrated its "intent to occupy the field" the Court held, "the Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act is preempted to the extent that it has impact upon the ERISA plans." A similar decision was reached in another federal case entitled Auto-Club Insurance Association v Pipeline Industry Benefit Fund, 654 F Supp 188, CA No. 85-70415 (ED Mich 12/13/85).

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