American Journal of Law & Medicine

ERISA: state malpractice claims against HMO not preempted.

ERISA: State Malpractice Claims Against HMO Not Preempted--Pappas v. Asbel(1)--On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reaffirmed its 1998 decision(2) in holding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") does not preempt state law medical negligence claims against third-party insurance companies.(3) In light of its recent ruling in Pegram v. Herdrich,(4) the United States Supreme Court ordered the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its 1998 ruling in Pappas I.

The plaintiff, Basile Pappas, sued his doctor and Haverford Hospital for medical malpractice after a 1991 incident when he was delayed in being transferred to a hospital to treat his epidural abscess. For approximately three hours, Pappas was detained in Haverford Hospital's emergency room while his doctor argued with U.S. Healthcare, his HMO, over where to send him for further treatment. …

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