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Law School Case Brief

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich. - No. 14-cv-11349, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113759 (E.D. Mich. July 21, 2017)

Rule:

An accelerated three-year limitations period for a claim under ERISA for a breach of fiduciary duty is triggered as of the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach. Actual knowledge means “knowledge” of the facts or transaction that constituted the alleged violation, and a plaintiff is deemed to have actual knowledge when he or she has knowledge of all the relevant facts, not that the facts establish a cognizable legal claim.

Facts:

A federally-recognized tribe and have filed suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan ("BCBSM") for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA and have also brought five state-law claims allegedly relating to a contract between the tribe, BCBSM, and Munson Medical Center. The tribes initial complaint was partially dismissed without prejudice to amend and clarify which actions of defendant are the subject of ERISA claims and which are the subject of state-law claims. BCBSM filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on the bases that the case had been pending for over three years.

Issue:

Should the motion to dismiss be granted?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court granted defendant's motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the ERISA claim for being untimely filed considering plaintiffs had actual knowledge by March 1, 2009 and the case was filed in 2014. A three-year limitations period applied to ERISA claims for breach of fiduciary duty; the action should have been filed by March 1, 2012. The courts also noted that under Michigan law, there was no independent cause of action for a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. 

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