Same-Sex Benefit Dispute To Be Heard By U.S. Court Of Appeals
- May 18, 2015
- No comments
Recently, a lawsuit was filed when an employer denied to provide health benefits to one of its employee’s same-sex spouses. On February 18, 2015, United States District Judge Freda Wolfson of the District of New Jersey dismissed a lawsuit that claimed Meridian Health System improperly denied health benefits under COBRA to a man whose legal husband was fired. The Plaintiff, filed an appeal on the same day his lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Wolfson. In his appeal, the Plaintiff claimed that Meridian violated COBRA by neglecting to provide him with notice of benefits eligibility under the law when his husband was fired from his job as a nurse. Judge Wolfson ruled that the Plaintiff lacked standing to bring such a lawsuit under COBRA because his husband did not include him as a beneficiary on his health care plan when he was still employed. The Plaintiff and his husband were legally married in Connecticut in 2009. According to the Plaintiff, Meridian failed to send him and his spouse COBRA and open enrollment notices within the mandatory 44 day period following his husband’s termination from employment. He suffered a stroke in 2011, and he claimed that his husband requested COBRA notices from Meridian in 2011. In 2012, the Plaintiff’s husband received notice that he was eligible for COBRA benefits and both men received open enrollment forms, but, according to Judge Wolfson, they never completed the forms and the Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The Plaintiff argued that, nevertheless, he had standing to sue because he was eligible to join the health care plan and would have been designated a beneficiary by his husband. Judge Wolfson noted that this argument was without merit and dismissed the case. Currently, this case has been appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the parties are awaiting consideration. Same-Sex marriage became legal in New Jersey on October 21, 2013 following the decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow, N.J. 216, 314 (2013). Since that time, thousands of homosexual couples have received marriage licenses throughout the state. If you are a gay or lesbian couple who plan on seeking a legal marriage or filing for a same-sex divorce or are simply someone who would like more information regarding the issue there are important factors that you should consider before doing so it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information about same-sex marriage, same-sex divorce, same-sex relationship dissolution, equitable distribution, alimony, custody and visitation, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and it is in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.