ERISA completely preempts a purported state law claim if (1) the plaintiff could have sued on the same claim under ERISA section 502(a)(1)(B) and (2) the suit does not arise from an independent duty owed by the defendant apart from ERISA and the ERISA plan. Here, the Ninth Circuit holds that a Washington Consumer Protection Act claim against an HMO over its restrictive practices regarding mental health treatment was not completely preempted by ERISA since the claims arose under Washington law, not ERISA or an ERISA plan. The plaintiff alleged a violation of a Washington statute requiring that health insurers treat mental health conditions no less favorably than somatic health problems and unfairly competed by favoring its own mental health care providers and discouraging its patients from using rival providers.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Gould, J.); September 4, 2018; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25033