Law360, New York (February 9, 2016, 7:56 PM ET) — A California federal judge on Tuesday allowed a mother, who says her son died after United Behavioral Health refused to cover rehabilitation treatment, to join a proposed class action alleging the company’s mental health coverage practices violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”).
The May 2014 case accuses United of setting standards for mental health or substance use coverage that aren’t sufficient under the company’s obligations as outlined in ERISA.
Each of the plaintiffs, or their family members, were members of employer-sponsored employee welfare benefit plans.
Wit and her father were denied coverage for most of her hospital stay after she was admitted in April 2013 with severe medical complications from an eating disorder, including vitamin deficiency and gastrointestinal problems, as well as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive symptoms, according to the complaint. United sought dismissal of the case, but the court denied its motion in November 2014.
In her Jan. 7 motion to intervene, Tillitt said that her son, Max, died at age 21 from substance abuse soon after being forced to leave residential treatment because United denied coverage, claiming it was no longer available under the terms of his benefit plan.
The case is David and Natasha Wit et al. v. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. et al., case number 3:14-cv-02346, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.