Most of that change has involved the direction in which the Court has taken its interpretation of the phrase “relate to” as contained in ERISA’s express preemption clause. Changing course after approximately twenty-five years of expansively interpreting the preemption clause, the Court has moved from a very broad interpretation of “relate to,” as announced in Pilot Life v. Dedeaux, to a more practical, case-by-case evaluation that principally asks whether a disputed state law interferes with ERISA’s purposes and objectives, as discussed in New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Insurance Co1 If the state law does not interfere with such purposes then there will be no ERISA preemption of the law. As such, the Court has significantly narrowed the scope of ERISA’s preemption. And, the shifting of interpretation from the broad to the narrow has led to a plethora of state and federal court opinions that find no ERISA preemption of various state statutes and common law theories that regulate managed care organizations.
A Plain Meaning Interpretation of ERISA’s Preemption and Saving Clauses: In Support of a State Law Preemption of Section 1132(a) of ERISA’s Civil Enforcement Provisions,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol41/iss2/4