A little more than one year ago, we reported on a settlement (Cassell et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al.) involving the alleged wrongful use of personal information belonging to retirement plan participants, claimed to be “plan assets.” This year, similar claims have been made against Shell Oil Company in connection
Articles Discussing ERISA.
On paper, the rule is straightforward: if a company sponsors a defined benefit pension plan or participates in a union/multiemployer pension plan in the United States, all members of that company’s controlled group of corporations (e.g., parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates connected through a common equity ownership of 80 percent or
The plaintiffs’ expectations surely suffered a blow after reading the Supreme Court’s initial observation in their case: “If [the plaintiffs] were to lose this lawsuit, they would still receive the exact same monthly benefits that they are already slated to receive, not a penny less. If [the plaintiffs] were to win this lawsuit, they
We previously wrote about the Department of Labor’s proposed expansion of its safe harbor for electronic delivery of certain retirement plan disclosures required under ERISA. The wait is finally over, with publication of the final rule (the “New Rule”) helped along by the DOL’s desire to alleviate some of the
On March 27, 2020, the Eighth Circuit in Sanzone v. Mercy Health, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9537 (8th Cir. March 27, 2020), ruled on several key issues on the “church plan” exemption to ERISA. As background, beginning in 2013, plaintiff’s counsel filed ERISA class-action cases across the country challenging
In a decision that may have profound consequences for the funding and continued operation of defined benefit retirement plans covering employees at religiously affiliated organizations, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear consolidated appeals from the Third, Seventh and Ninth Circuits to determine the […]
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that retirement plans sponsored by church-affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, are exempt from ERISA. ERISA’s “church plan exemption” provides that a retirement plan that is “established and maintained” by a church is exempt […]
With an alarming number of American workers lacking adequate retirement savings, California and a handful of other states began implementing state-sponsored retirement savings programs. The CalSavers Retirement Savings Program (CalSavers) was first launched as a pilot program in 2018 and then expanded to all eligible employers in the state in
In a closely watched decision, Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, Slip Op. No. 18-1116 (U.S. S. Ct., Feb. 26, 2020), construing ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations, see ERISA § 413(2), 29 U.S.C. § 1113(2), the Supreme Court held unanimously (J. Alito) that “actual knowledge” means “. . . when a plaintiff actually is aware of the relevant facts, not when he should be.”
The Second Circuit recently considered for the first time whether the equitable remedy of reformation was available under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) where a court determined that the written terms of a retirement plan violated ERISA but no allegation of fraud, mistake, or inequitable conduct existed. In Laurent v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the court found that “terms violative of ERISA” may serve an independent basis justifying an award of a reformation remedy as to a plan, indicating that its decision is in line with a “hint” from the Supreme Court in its 2011 decision in CIGNA Corp. v. Amara1 (referred to as “Amara III”) that courts should broadly construe remedies in equity under ERISA § 502(a)(3).2
A U.S. District Court in Connecticut recently issued an order that highlights the importance of understanding exactly what the term “medically necessary” means in an ERISA health plan.1 This is another in a growing line of cases finding a disconnect between the term “medically necessary” in a health plan and the guidelines that third-party administrators use to determine whether treatment is “medically necessary.”
Section 104(b)(4) of ERISA provides that a plan administrator must respond to a written request for certain documents (including the plan documents and summary plan description) by a participant or beneficiary by providing the requested documents. Section 502(c)(1) of ERISA and Regulation § 2575.502(c)-1 provide that a plan administrator who fails to do so within thirty days is liable to such participant or beneficiary in an amount (as determined by the court in its discretion) of up to $110 per day.
In Bauwnes v. Revcon Technology Group, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the trustees of a multiemployer pension plan could not agree to an employer’s installment payment plan of its withdrawal liability after the trustees had demanded full payment following the employer’s default. This “no good deed goes unpunished” decision will likely make trustees much less likely to agree to subsequent payment plans after finding an employer in default.
On August 20, 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Dorman v. Charles Schwab Corp.,1 overturning its 1984 position in Amaro v. Continental Can Co.2 that lawsuits filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are not arbitrable. The court found that subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean that Amaro “is no longer good law.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit joins the Second, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits in declining to impose liability on alleged de facto plan administrators. Under Section 502(c) of ERISA, a plan administrator may be liable and subject to penalties for failing to comply with a participant’s request for information which the administrator must provide within 30-days from the request. The Third Circuit addressed whether a participant could sue a “de facto plan administrator” for failing to provide information timely.