Archive:May 25, 2007

Winning Race to Courthouse Does Not Win ERISA Preemption

Winning Race to Courthouse Does Not Win ERISA Preemption

Bd. of Trustees of Cement Masons & Plasterers Health & Welfare Trust v. GBC Northwest, LLC, 2007 WL 1306545 (W.D. Wash. May 3, 2007), reconsid’n denied, 2007 WL 1521220 (W.D. Wash. May 22, 2007)

A split of authority exists between Washington state courts and federal courts regarding whether an employee benefit trust fund can use state lien laws to recover unpaid employee benefit contribution payments.  In 2000, the Washington Supreme Court held that ERISA preempted the state public works lien law.  Int’l Bd. of Elec. Workers v. Trig Elec. Contr. Co., 142 Wash.2d 431, 13 P.3d 622 (2000).  Two years later, however, Judge Coughenour of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington noted that federal law, as determined by federal courts, governs questions of ERISA preemption, and that ERISA does not preempt Washington’s public works lien laws.  Ironworkers Dist. Council of the Pacific Northwest v. George Sollit Corp., M.A., 2002 WL 31545972 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 4, 2002).

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