Hi-Lex Controls, Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI, No. 13-1773 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Hi-Lex has about 1,300 employees. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) served as a third-party administrator (TPA) for Hi-Lex’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan since 1991. Under the Administrative Services Contracts (ASCs) between the parties, BCBSM agreed to process healthcare claims for Hi-Lex employees and grant those employees access to BCBSM’s provider networks. BCBSM received an “administrative fee” set forth in ASC Schedule A on a per-employee, per month basis. In 1993, BCBSM implemented a new system, “retention reallocation,” to retain additional revenue. Regardless of the amount BCBSM was required to pay a hospital for a given service, it reported a higher amount that was then paid by the self-insured client. Hi-Lex allegedly was unaware of the retention reallocation until 2011, when BCBSM disclosed the fees in a letter and described them as “administrative compensation.” Hi-Lex sued, alleging breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1104(a). The court awarded Hi-Lex $5,111,431 in damages and prejudgment interest of $914,241. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that: BCBSM was an ERISA fiduciary and breached its fiduciary duty under ERISA section 1104(a), that BCBSM conducted “self-dealing” in violation of section 1106(b)(1), and that Hi-Lex’s claims were not time-barred.