Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila

In Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 124 S.Ct. 2488, 159 L.Ed.2d 312 (2004), the Supreme Court held that "any state-law cause of action that duplicates, supplements, or supplants the ERISA civil enforcement remedy conflicts with the clear congressional intent to make the ERISA remedy exclusive and is therefore pre-empted." Davila, 124 S.Ct. at 2495. A state cause of action is completely preempted under ERISA "if an individual, at some point in time, could have brought his claim under ERISA 502, and where there is no other independent legal duty that is implicated by a defendant's actions." Id. at 2496. In addition, even a state law that is saved from express preemption under ERISA 514 "will be pre-empted if it provides a separate vehicle to assert a claim for benefits outside of, or in addition to, ERISA's remedial scheme." Id. at 2500. The Supreme Court emphasized that a state-law cause of action need not duplicate an ERISA provision to be preempted. Id. at 2499. Rather, a state-law cause of action is preempted if it arises from a duty created by ERISA or the terms of the relevant health benefit plan. Id. at 2497-99 (holding that the alleged "tort" duty "to exercise ordinary care" under the Texas Health Care Liability Act did not arise independently of the "contract" duties actionable under ERISA or the plan's terms).