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State Law Preemption Under ERISA: Recent Court Decisions, Causes of Action, Impact on Retirement and Health Plan Administration

Automatic Enrollment Arrangements, Beneficiary Protections, Participant Consent, Plan Documentation and Notice Requirements

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide ERISA counsel to manage the legal challenges of ERISA preemption rules and their impact on retirement and health plan administration. The panel will discuss application of federal rules, recent court decisions, causes of action, and key considerations and litigation techniques for plan sponsors and administrators.


Section 514(a) under ERISA provides that ERISA preempts state laws insofar as they "relate to" any ERISA covered employee benefit plan, subject to limited exceptions. This eliminates the possibility of plans having to reconcile inconsistent state and local regulation, but could have significant implications if ERISA preemption applies to a claim.

A determination that ERISA preempts state law would change the entire framework of any litigation of ERISA claims which would then be litigated in federal court with limited possible remedies for plaintiffs. Under Section 514(a), ERISA preempts "any and all State laws insofar as they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan" covered by ERISA, with limited exceptions. ERISA counsel must be aware of the application of these rules to effectively manage the litigation of claims against plan sponsors and administrators.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued decisions on ERISA preemption primarily focused on what it means to "relate to" an employee benefit plan concerning the application of the preemption rule, resulting in a very expansive application of ERISA preemption. Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an information letter reiterating this fact regarding automatic enrollment features in ERISA plans. Recent court decisions also demonstrate the expansive reach of ERISA preemption over state privacy and consumer protection statutes and other state laws that impact ERISA benefit claims.

Listen as our panel discusses the legal challenges of ERISA preemption of state laws and policies, the impact to retirement and health plan administration, lessons learned from recent court decisions, and litigation best practices for ERISA counsel.



  1. Application of ERISA preemption of claims against plan sponsors and administrators
  2. Exception to preemption rules; Section 514 (b)-(d)
  3. Recent court cases, DOL guidance and implications
  4. Considerations and best practices for ERISA counsel


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Understanding ERISA preemption rules under Section 514(a) and limited exceptions
  • Recent court decisions, causes of action and critical factors in determining the application of ERISA preemption
  • Types of notice and disclosure provisions to be considered by plan fiduciaries
  • Avoiding litigation pitfalls and crucial considerations for ERISA counsel


Davenport, Brenna
Brenna A. Davenport

Poyner Spruill

Ms. Davenport practices primarily in two areas of law, employee benefits and business law. In the area of employee...  |  Read More

Pridgen, Nancy
Nancy B. Pridgen

Founding Member
Pridgen Bassett Law

Ms. Pridgen focuses her practice on employment litigation in the federal courts, and has handled, in some...  |  Read More

St.Cyr, Jesse
Jesse St.Cyr

Poyner Spruill

Mr. St.Cyr has experience working with a diverse range of benefits and compensation matters including those involving...  |  Read More

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