February 12, 2018
2018 CO 11. No. 15SC801. Burton v. Colorado Access; No. 16SC163. Olivar v. Public Service Employee Credit Union Long Term Disability Plan.
Service of Process—Actions to Recover Benefits—Void Judgments—Parties Liable.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allows plaintiffs to serve the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary under 29 USC § 1132(d)(1) 17 (2016) when an employee-benefit plan has not designated in the summary plan description an “individual” as agent for service of process. In these cases, the Court held that “individual” in § 1132(d)(1) includes a corporation. Therefore, service of process on the Labor Secretary is proper only when a plan fails to designate either a plan administrator or some other person, including a corporation, as agent for service of process. Because the plans in these cases designated corporations as agents for service of process, petitioners’ service on only the Labor Secretary was insufficient. The Court further held that judgments void for lack of service may be set aside at any time. Finally, the Court held that the insurer, not the plan, is the only proper defendant in an ERISA claim for benefits due when the plan’s terms provide that only the insurer is obligated to pay and to determine eligibility for benefits. Because the insurers alone were obligated to pay and to determine eligibility for benefits in these cases, they (not the plans) are the proper party defendants. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals in both cases.
2018 CO 12. No. 16SC666, Oakwood Holdings, LLC v. Mortgage Investments Enterprises, LLC.
Foreclosure—Redemption—CRS § 38-38-302—Right to Cure.
This case required the Supreme Court to determine whether a junior lienor who has complied with its obligations under CRS § 38-38-302 is entitled to redeem, or whether it has a duty to accept a tendered lien payoff from the certificate of purchase holder who bought the property at a foreclosure sale and who obtained a power of attorney from the debtor–prior owner authorizing the certificate holder to pay off the prior owner’s debts. The Court concluded that under the plain language of the applicable redemption statutes, a junior lienor who has complied with its obligations by timely filing its notice of intent to redeem is entitled to do so and, at that point, has no duty to accept a tendered payoff from a certificate of purchase holder like the respondent did here. Although the debtor–prior owner had a right to cure before the foreclosure sale, respondent gained no additional rights by obtaining a limited power of attorney from the debtor–prior owner after the sale. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings.