ERISA Litigation

Buyers Beware!  Ninth Circuit Holds that a Company May Be Subject to Withdrawal Liability as a Successor Employer under the “Successorship Doctrine”

ANGEL L. GARRETT and ALYSSA OHANIAN, October 2015 — On September 11, 2015, the Ninth Circuit, in Resilient Floor Covering Pension Trust Fund Board of Trustees v. Michael’s Floor Covering, Inc., Case No. 12-17675, 2015 WL 5295091, joined the Seventh Circuit in holding that an employer may be subject to withdrawal liability as a successor […]

Must Benefit Denial Letters Inform Claimants of a Plan’s Time Limit for Bringing a Lawsuit?

CLARISSA A. KANG, September 2015 — “Yes,” says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit in Mirza v. Insurance Administrator of America, Inc., et al. recently held that a plan administrator violated section 503 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) for failing to disclose in a […]

Supreme Court’s Tibble Decision Provides Little Guidance

MICHELLE S. LEWIS, July 2015 — The Supreme Court has issued a unanimous opinion in favor of plan participants in Tibble v. Edison International, 135 S. Ct. 1823 (2015), a case that raised an issue on the amount of time a plan participant has to bring a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. […]

“An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure”: The Ninth Circuit’s Holding in Spinedex Lowers the Bar For Plaintiffs Seeking ERISA Plan Benefits In Court

VIRGINIA PERKINS, December 2014 — On November 5, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Spinedex Physical Therapy USA, Inc. v. United Healthcare of Arizona, Inc., 770 F.3d 1282 (9th Cir. 2014), of potentially great importance to sponsors and administrators of ERISA plans. Of particular interest are the Ninth Circuit’s holdings that: A contractual […]

The Impact of Dudenhoeffer on Lower Court Stock-Drop Cases

ALYSSA OHANIAN, December 2014 — The Supreme Court recently held in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (2014), that employer stock ownership plan (“ESOP”) fiduciaries are not entitled to a special presumption that they acted prudently in investing in employer stock. Rather, ESOP fiduciaries are subject to the same duty of prudence […]

Gabriel Revisited

SEAN T. STRAUSS, December 2014 — In our June 2014 newsletter, we discussed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, 755 F.3d 647 (9th Cir. 2014). Following a petition for rehearing, the Ninth Circuit recently withdrew its earlier opinion and issued a new decision. See, Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, […]

COBRA Compliance and the Health Flexible Spending Account Carryover

ELIZABETH L. LOH, October  2014 — In Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Notice 2013-71, the IRS issued guidance allowing Health Flexible Spending Accounts (“Health FSAs”) to offer carryovers of unused balances of up to $500 remaining at the end of a plan year to be used for qualified medical expenses in a subsequent plan year (See […]

A New Approach to Abuse of Discretion Review

ALYSSA OHANIAN and CLARISSA KANG, September 2014 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently applied a searching analysis under the abuse of discretion standard of review — one that takes into account all circumstances and will not uphold denial simply if there is a single reasonable basis to deny benefits — even where there […]

Not So Much: The Ninth Circuit Clarifies Whether the Supreme Court’s Decision in Amara Vastly Expanded Remedies Available Under ERISA § 502(a)(3)

SEAN T. STRAUSS, June 2014 — In Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, — F.3d —, 2014 WL 2535469 (9th Cir. June 6, 2014), the Ninth Circuit provided its most comprehensive discussion to date of the scope of remedies available to plaintiffs seeking “appropriate equitable relief” pursuant to ERISA § 502(a)(3) (29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3)) […]

What Impact do Collective Bargaining Agreements Have on Vesting of Retiree Welfare Benefits? Supreme Court Set to Hear Retiree Health Care Benefits Case.

The Supreme Court has agreed to resolve a split in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals over the rules for construing collective bargaining agreements that provide for retiree health care benefits. On May 5, 2014, the Court granted a petition for certiorari in M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et. al. v. Hobert Freel Tackett, et. al, […]

Win Some, Lose Some — Lessons from the Eighth Circuit’s Tussey v. ABB Decision

On March 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, reversed, and vacated in part the district court’s opinion in Tussey v. ABB, Inc. that had awarded ABB 401(k) plan participants $36.9 million in damages arising from fiduciary breaches related to the defendants’ failure to monitor recordkeeping expenses and revenue sharing arrangements, […]

Wrong All Along? Court Holds Church Plan Exemption Improperly Claimed by Catholic Hospital

A recent district court decision may leave many religious affiliated organizations uncertain as to whether their employee benefit plans are subject to the demands of ERISA. ERISA exempts “church plans” from its requirements, allowing plans established and maintained for the benefit of church employees, or the employees of church affiliated organizations, to operate outside the […]

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