A federal district court in New Jersey granted summary judgment in favor of New Jersey Bac Health Fund, finding the limitations provision set forth in the Fund’s SPD to be reasonable. Barriero v. NJ Bac Health Fund, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181277 (D.N.J. Dec. 27, 2013). Under the welfare plan limitations provision, participants seeking to file suit pursuant to section 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA must do so within “3 years after the end of the year in which medical . . . services were provided.” Plaintiff underwent surgeries in March and April of 2009 and appealed the total amount paid by the plan. On April 1, 2011, Plaintiff’s final appeal was denied. He subsequently filed suit on January 28, 2013, three years and one month after the end of the year he received medical services.
Plaintiff argued that the SPD’s three-year limitations period was inherently unfair because it began to run prior to the time when a participant could seek judicial review. Plaintiff contended that the deadline for filing the suit should have been April 1, 2014, three years after the exhaustion of all internal administrative appeals. The court, relying on the recent Supreme Court decision in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 134 S. Ct. 604 (2013),disagreed, holding that effect must be given to a plan’s limitations provision unless the provision is determined to be unreasonable. Here, the court found the three-year limitations period reasonable and noted that the plaintiff could have filed suit at any time between April 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.