The December 16, 2013, decision issued by the United States Supreme Court inHeimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 134 S. Ct. 604 (2013), spread holiday cheer throughout the insurance industry. In Heimeshoff, the Court unanimously held that contractual limitations periods contained within employee benefit plans covered by ERISA are generally enforceable even when the contractual limitation period begins to run before a participant’s cause of action under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(b) has accrued. See Heimeshoff, 134 S. Ct. at 608.
On June 18, 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) made a splash when it adopted a policy that recognizes obesity as a “disease.” AMA News Room, AMA Adopts New Policies on Second Day of Voting at Annual Meeting(June 18, 2013). Although the AMA is not vested with any lawmaking authority and may not have as much influence as it once did, it is still the largest physician organization in the United States. Scott Hensley, AMA Says It’s Time to Call Obesity a Disease, NPR (June 19, 2013). As such, the AMA and its policies still carry a lot of weight—no pun intended—in the medical field and beyond. Id. Seealso Nanci Hellmich, Medical Group Recognizes Obesity as a Disease, USA TODAY (June 19, 2013). At this time, it is not clear what effect this particular AMA decision will have, if any, but it may affect specific areas of the law. So what should litigators and employers, in particular, expect?
Recently, a Colorado federal court considered a motion to dismiss in a medical device product liability action arising from a plaintiff’s allergic reaction to a cobalt and nickel knee replacement system. See Haffner v. Stryker Corp., et al, No. 14-CV-00186, 2014 WL 4821107 (D. Colo. Sept. 29, 2014) (unpublished).Observing that there appeared to be “few medical device tort cases in Colorado,” the court addressed the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s four causes of action: strict product liability, negligent product liability, the breach of implied warranties of merchantability and fitness, and the breach of an express warranty.