Lowe's Companies, Inc.
ABBEY SPANIER, LLP, SAPIR & FRUMKIN LLP AND THE LAW OFFICES OF PATRICK F. LEE ANNOUNCES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST LOWE'S COMPANIES, INC. FOR ERISA VIOLATIONS
New York, New York – February 2, 2012, Abbey Spanier, LLP, Sapir & Frumkin LLP and the Law Offices of Patrick F. Lee announce the filing of a class action lawsuit against Lowe’s Companies, Inc., (“Lowe’s”), Lowe’s Welfare Plan Number 511 (the “Plan”) and the Lowe’s Welfare Plan Committee for violations of their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). This action, filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York (12-civ-0724), has been brought as a class action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 on behalf of all participants in the Group Medical Plan who had their health coverage terminated and were therefore denied medical benefits by Lowe’s for part or all of the 2011 calendar year (the “Class Period”).
The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, Defendants modified Lowe’s prior practice of automatically re-enrolling employees in their Group Health Plan, except for seeking any changes requested in coverage. Instead, they put into place a system that required every employee to re-enroll via its computer system. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the named Plaintiffs had their insurance cancelled by Lowe’s but were not told about such cancellation until such time as he/she or one of their family members became ill, and then advised of their uninsured status only by their physicians or medical care provider. They were never advised by Lowe’s that their insurance coverage had been cancelled. Each named Plaintiff had to actively seek out the truth regarding the cancellation of their insurance coverage and were given different stories and excuses from every Lowe’s employee from whom they sought answers. Lowe’s failed to give notice to any of its employees who lost coverage due to the modification of the reenrollment procedure or to inform them in any way of the loss of coverage.
A primary example involved Plaintiff Fred Milling, a 6 year employee with Lowe’s, whose wife had been battling pancreatic cancer for over 18 months, and was in the midst of receiving monthly chemotherapy treatments. Mr. Milling learned that his medical benefits had been cancelled only after he brought his wife to the hospital to continue her monthly chemotherapy treatments. Even though Lowe’s continued to deduct the monthly premiums for medical coverage from his paycheck, the Company insisted that Mr. Milling had “voluntarily elected to drop his coverage” because even though he completed the reenrollment process Lowe’s told him that he failed to hit the “submit” key and would not correct the problem. Mrs. Milling died of complications from pancreatic cancer approximately 2 months later.
The complaint alleges that as Plan fiduciaries, Defendants are required to exercise skill, care, prudence, and diligence in administering all components of the Plan, and are responsible for administering the Plan solely in the interest of Plan participants and beneficiaries. Plaintiffs allege that in violation of their fiduciary duties to plan participants and beneficiaries, Defendants embarked upon a course of conduct that caused many employees to lose their coverage with the Lowe’s Group Medical Plan.
Plaintiffs seek relief on behalf of all members of the Class in the form of reinstatement of coverage, recognition of the group health plan enrollment elections of Class members on file as of December 31, 2010, equitable restitution to make them whole in the form of reimbursement of health care expenses incurred by Class members that would have been covered but for Defendants’ unlawful termination of benefits and reimbursement for premiums for medical insurance coverage that would not have been incurred had the proper coverage not been cancelled.
Nancy Kaboolian, Karin E. Fisch, William D. Frumkin and Patrick F. Lee represent the plaintiffs. If you believe that your group health plan coverage was wrongfully terminated by Lowe’s please call us.
Abbey Spanier, LLP
Sapir & Frumkin LLP
Patrick F. Lee
623 Barracks Street
New Orleans, LA 70116