Injury Claim Headed for US Supreme CourtApril 9, 2015

A plaintiff who suffered a back and neck injury at the hands of a drunk driver and spent most of his compensation money on legal fees and care for himself and his young daughter has successfully petitioned to have the US Supreme Court decide if he needs to pay back more than $120,000 to his benefits plan.

According to court documents, Robert Montanile suffered a serious back and neck injury when the car in which he was driving was hit by a drunk driver in Florida, in 2008. The other driver had run a stop sign. Montanile, who required lumbar spinal fusion surgery following the accident, launched a back injury lawsuit against the driver and won $500,000 in his back injury compensation claim – a claim that also included the injury to his neck.

Montanile’s benefits plan, the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan (NEI), was successful in persuading a lower court to require Montanile to repay more than $120,000 in funds the Plan disbursed for medical expenses following the accident.

In taking the case to the US Supreme Court, Montanile is citing a split in circuit court decisions with regard to an ERISA reimbursement provision. He is petitioning for a final decision that an insurer cannot claim reimbursement of that which no longer exists.

The case is Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, case number 14-723, in the Supreme Court of the United States.

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