Hansen v. Harper Excavating, Inc., No. 08-4089 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The employee attempted to enroll in his employer's ERISA-regulated health care plan. The employer deducted premiums, but did not enroll the employee, who subsequently left the company and fell ill. The employee won $157,182 plus attorney fees under ERISA, then filed state law claims of fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of contract, which the employer removed to federal court. The district court denied remand and dismissed the claims as res judicata. The Tenth Circuit ordered remand to state court, holding that the state law claims are not completely preempted by ERISA and that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over those claims. While he was employed by the company, the employee would have had standing, under ERISA, to challenge the actions underlying the state claims; at the time he filed the suit, he did not have standing. Having already won an ERISA award, the employee no longer qualified as a former employee with a colorable ERISA claim.