A proposed class action lawsuit filed in Florida claims Best Buy Co., Inc. failed to adequately inform employees of their right to continuing health coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
An amendment to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act, COBRA stipulates that group health plans are required to provide a temporary extension of health coverage to beneficiaries who experience “qualifying events” such as a loss of employment, the case explains. The suit states that COBRA requires plan administrators to send employees a single form “written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant” and that provides relevant information about electing to continue coverage within 14 days of a qualifying event.
With regard to the plaintiff, the case claims the man received a “COBRA Enrollment Notice” from Best Buy shortly after his termination on November 6, 2019. The suit claims this form was “defective” in part because it directed the plaintiff to a “catch-all” human resources phone number and website instead of including the requisite information or instructions on how to enroll in COBRA. Specifically, the complaint claims the defendant’s notice did not fulfill COBRA requirements in that it failed to:
Include an address where COBRA payments should be mailed;
Identify the plan’s administrator;
Include information on how COBRA coverage can be lost prematurely;
Provide all required explanatory information; and
Include a physical continuation coverage election form.
As a result of the defendant’s “confusing and incomplete” notice, the lawsuit claims, the plaintiff was unable to make an informed decision about his health insurance and subsequently lost his health coverage.
According to the case, Best Buy’s notice was accompanied by other documents that contained information on COBRA, but ultimately confused the plaintiff and violated COBRA’s mandate that the required information be provided in a single form. The complaint argues that Best Buy’s failure to provide a compliant notice was especially egregious since the Department of Labor provides a model COBRA form for companies to use.
The lawsuit looks to represent all participants and beneficiaries of Best Buy’s health plan who were sent COBRA notices as a result of a qualifying event during the applicable statute of limitations period and did not elect continuation coverage. The suit requests that the defendant be made to send out proper notice at its own expense and pay statutory damages of $110 per day for each class member who was sent a defective notice.