Filing. Published in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah on December 8, 2020 (Case no. 2:19-cv-00982-DAO).
Background. Plaintiff attended Alpine Academy, which was licensed in Utah as an RTC, and was denied benefits from insurance company headquartered in WI. Denial was based in part because the treatment provider was “a school setting with a therapeutic component and therefore, fell under the Plan exclusion for school programs.” Plaintiffs bring ERISA §1132(a)(1)(b) recovering of benefits claims and ERISA §1132 (a)(3) Parity Act Claim.
Holding. Judge Daphne A. Oberg granted Defendants motion to transfer venue but denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss without prejudice. The Court finds practical considerations and the interest of justice weigh in favor of transferring the case to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The motion to dismiss should be heard in the new venue.
Analysis. The Court reviewed several key factors to determine the proper forum for the legal proceeding to continue. Judge Oberg noted that the parties did agree that this action could be brought in the Eastern District of Wisconsin as the district where Plaintiffs reside, where the Plan is administered, and where Aurora maintains its principal place of business. The accessibility of witnesses is one factor to consider but in ERISA cases this is not as crucial as the court is generally limited to reviewing the administrative record. Asserting a parity act claim does not change the analysis.