|Robert Montanile has traveled a long, painful road while seeking a fair personal injury settlement after suffering horrible car accident injuries. Not only did he require spinal surgery after a drunk driver ran a stop sign, but he was also sued by his own insurance company. Montanile is just one of three million people injured in an estimated 5.5 million car crashes in the U.S. every year, but he is one of the only victims who will have his case heard by the Supreme Court.
When Montanile sued the drunk driver who struck him, he had no way of predicting it would lead to a legal battle that would reach the highest court in the land. Montanile was insured by The National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, which paid $120,000 of his medical costs after his accident.
When his personal injury claim resulted in a $500,000 settlement, the insurance company argued that under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, they were entitled to first reimbursement from his successful personal injury claim. After nearly a year of fighting his own insurance company, he was sued himself.
Montanile’s legal supporters say his insurance company is unfairly using the Act to receive a “free ride” from the good work of his personal injury attorneys, even though the Act was clearly designed to protect employees, not employers and insurance companies. For example, this June, a U.S. District Judge ruled that General Electric could not suddenly change its benefit plans for retired employees, a clear violation of the Act’s original intent.
Montanile says he needs the money from his settlement to care for his 12-year-old daughter and pay his mounting legal costs. Now, the case will be called Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan and will be heard by the Supreme Court in October of this year.