This lawsuit was originally filed in Kane County, Ill., in the wrongful death and survival act claims by Lee Anne Wigdahl for the death of her husband, Eric Wigdahl. The case was challenged by the defendant, who claimed that it should have been removed to the federal court because the case posed a federal question.
The complaint that Wigdahl filed made UnitedHealthcare (UHC) as a party defendant for allegedly choosing not to tell her now- deceased husband to immediately go to the emergency room rather than steering him to a less expensive urgent care center when he called the health insurer, UHC from California. He was in serious distress while seeking help in locating an in-network referral under his group health plan.
UHC argued that federal question jurisdiction applied here requiring removal to federal court because: (1) Section 502(a) of ERISA authorizes a beneficiary to sue the administrator of a group plan if its employees withhold or misrepresent the plan’s benefits; and (2) Section 514 says ERISA “shall supersede any and all state laws insofar as they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan.”