A former policyholder’s suit alleging Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield illegally hiked its monthly group health insurance premiums is not preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a Civil Court judge in Manhattan has ruled.

Judge Lucy Billings in Simons v. Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 3223/98, filed in Civil Court, New York County, denied Empire’s motion for summary judgment on David Simons’s overcharge complaint. But she narrowly tailored the relief he would be able to obtain by dismissing his claim for damages due to infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages.

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