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Joanne Roskey Comments on Exposure in J&J and Other Lawsuits in Law360

"5 ERISA Cases To Watch In 2024's Second Half"


Joanne Roskey, a former Chief of the Division of Health Investigations in the Department of Labor's (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Office of Enforcement, commented on an important case to watch in the second half of 2024, involving a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) employee in New Jersey alleging that her employer's health plan paid excessive costs and fees for benefits, prompting concerns among employer-side benefits attorneys. The lawsuit claims Johnson & Johnson breached fiduciary duties by not negotiating better prices for prescription drugs through its pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts. This type of ERISA class action, focusing on alleged excessive costs and fees in health plans, is gaining attention alongside similar litigation targeting 401(k) retirement plans. Roskey said, "you also now see the employers, potentially as a result of this new liability risk that the J&J-type cases are creating, they're suing their third-party administrators (TPA) of health plans." This case reflects a broader trend where employers and third-party administrators are increasingly exposed to liability risks related to fee management in health benefits. Roskey said the J&J filing "got a lot of attention because it's J&J, and it was a big case. But, there are other employers that are getting sued," she added, pointing out a case involving MetLife's handling of drug rebates that's currently before the Third Circuit as one example. "Both employers and TPAs are seeing a lot more potential liability exposure, because this scrutiny over fees and costs is causing an increase in the types of litigation that we're seeing."