Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...
Oct. 28 — The parents of a deceased Oregon woman hit a roadblock in their effort to wrest life insurance proceeds from the man convicted of killing their daughter ( Herinckx v. Sanelle , 2016 BL 356084, Or. Ct. App., No. A159249, 10/26/16 ).
The couple had argued to a state court judge that Oregon’s “slayer statute”—which prohibits individuals from inheriting or receiving life insurance proceeds from someone they killed or abused—overrode the beneficiary designation in their daughter’s life insurance plan, which was executed in favor of her boyfriend and eventual killer, Paul Sanelle.
An Oregon appellate court ruled on Oct. 26 that the state’s slayer statute was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and thus couldn’t be used to override the terms of the relevant ERISA-governed insurance plan. However, the court allowed the parents an opportunity to bring a “federal slayer claim” under ERISA. These claims have had some success in federal courts, including in a recent case involving a deceased employee of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.
In finding the Oregon statute preempted by ERISA, the court noted that nearly every state has adopted some kind of slayer statute, and the laws vary in material ways—for example, with respect to the standard of proof necessary to forfeit benefits in the absence of a conviction. These variances can interfere with the national uniformity of benefit administration enshrined in ERISA, the court said.
The Oct. 26 decision was written by Judge Scott Shorr of the Oregon Court of Appeals. Judges Rex Armstrong and James C. Egan joined the decision.
George W. Kelly represented the parents. Andrew Altschul represented the insurer. Sanelle wasn’t represented by counsel.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text of the decision is at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Herinckx_v_Sanelle_281_Or_App_869_Ct_App_2016_Court_Opinion.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)