Court Considers Questionable Term Date in COBRA Violation Case

September 22, 2006 ( - The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said an employer may have violated COBRA notification requirements in the case of an employee who says he was never formally terminated.

According to the court opinion, Thomas Olick continued his sales duties with Knights of Columbus and continued to pay health care premiums until he received a COBRA notice in February 2006, which said he had been terminated as of November 2005. After he received the notice, his health insurer Aetna denied $3,000 in medical claims incurred between November 2005 and February 2006.

The purpose of the court ruling was to decide on motions to dismiss claims made by Aetna and Knights of Columbus. Olick had sued for return of his health care premiums and payment of the medical claims. Olick also claimed his notice of COBRA rights were not received in a timely manner.

The court noted that the central issue was the date of termination. If Olick was considered terminated as of November 2005, the notice received in February 2006 was not received within the 44 days following termination that COBRA requires. The court dismissed Aetna as a defendant on the notification claim, saying it was not responsible for the notification of the employee, but let the claim stand against Knights of Columbus.

Similarly, Knights of Columbus was dismissed as an improper defendant on the claim requesting payment of the $3,000 in medical bills. The court let the counts stand regarding reimbursement of insurance premiums, again noting that the issue would be whether Olick was actually terminated in November 2005.

The opinion in Olick v. James Kearney, et. al. is here .