Copyright (c) 2001 School of Law, Santa Clara University
Santa Clara Law Review
ARTICLE: ERISA: THE SAVINGS CLAUSE, § 502 IMPLIED PREEMPTION, COMPLETE PREEMPTION, AND STATE LAW REMEDIES
42 Santa Clara L. Rev. 105
Donald T. Bogan*
When Congress adopted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 1 its members hailed the legislation as a colossal achievement in consumer protection designed to reform the private pension industry. 2 Since that hopeful beginning, however, ERISA has become more notorious as a shield against consumer interests in the administration of non-pension employee benefit plans, 3 rather than notable for the real advances ERISA has implemented in the pension arena, due to the Supreme Court's early pronouncements on the statute's preemption of state law. 4 As a result of ERISA preemption, AIDS patients who had their health care benefits canceled, 5 women suffering from breast cancer who had been denied potentially life-saving medical treatment, 6 and a myriad of other ERISA plan participants with claims for extra-contractual damages against their plan insurers 7 have had their traditional state law remedies nullified, and the perpetrators of egregious wrongs have not been held accountable.
ERISA contains express preemption language which Congress detailed in 514 of the statute. 8 Section 514 includes three interrelated passages, known separately as the preemption clause, the savings clause, and the deemer clause. 9 The preemption clause provides that ERISA "shall supersede any and all State laws ... [that] relate to any employee benefit plan." 10 The savings clause then exempts from preemption any state law "which regulates insurance, banking, or securities." 11 Finally, the deemer clause modifies the effects of the savings clause by nullifying any state attempt to ...
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