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Appeal in California regarding a ‘church plan lawsuit’

An appeal in California that revolves around a “church plan” lawsuit has been denied by a federal judge, who did not find sufficient grounds for it to carry.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act has direct stipulations for what can and what cannot be considered a “church plan.” When a health care provider offered one of these plans, it was ruled that it did not fall within those guidelines. However, the provider decided to appeal that ruling, saying that it was unfair and that the plan should still work in the way that it was currently set up.

In order for the appeal to go through, there were a few things that the court and the insurance companies had to look at and consider. First, the judge could rule that there would be an appeal if the issue was about a “controlling question of law.” Second, the review could go through if it was reasonable that the two sides would simply disagree about exactly what the law meant or how it could be interpreted; for example, if the law was unclear and could be interpreted differently by each side, it could be that nether were in the wrong. Finally, there could be a review if the appeal may work toward terminating the litigation.

However, the judge found that this case did not fit any of those criteria, and so the appeal has not been granted, and the ruling will stand.

When it comes to employment law, there can often be many interpretations of exactly what a law stipulates or what it means. It is important for businesses, employees and insurance companies to know exactly how these laws and interpretations are going to impact the policies that they use.

Source:  Plan Advisor, “Judge Rejects Immediate Appeal for Church Plan Lawsuit” Rebecca Moore, Mar. 21, 2014

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