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Posts tagged "ERISA"

Milgram v. The Orthopedic Associates Defined Contribution Pension Plan, No. 10-1862 (2d Cir. Nov. 29, 2011)

A pension benefit plan attempts to wriggle out of a $1,571,723.73 judgment in favor of a participant with a novel defense: that it would violate ERISA's anti-alienation provision, § 206(d)(1), codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)(1), for the plan to pay the prevailing plaintiff what he is owed. The Second Circuit addresses and rejects this argument.

Novella v. Westchester County, No. 09-4061 (2d Cir. Nov. 3, 2011)

Today's ERISA question is an important one: when, for limitations purposes, does a claim accrue against a pension plan for miscalculating the participant's benefit? After considering several alternative formulae developed in different circuits and district courts, the Second Circuit holds that the claim begins only "when there is enough information available to the pensioner to assure that he knows or reasonably should know of the miscalculation."

Gray v. Citigroup, Inc., No. 09-3804 (2d Cir. Oct. 19, 2011); Gearren v. McGraw-Hill Cos., Inc., No. 10-792 (2d Cir. Oct. 19, 2011)

The Second Circuit becomes the latest U.S. Court of Appeals to join the fray about whether to adopt what is known as a "presumption of prudence" under ERISA. The rule favors plan fiduciaries who allow investment in company stock in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), despite knowing that the company stock is very risky. In two divided opinions, the panel adopts the presumption of prudence over a sharply-worded dissent.

Brown v. Continental Airlines, Inc., No. 10-20015 (5th Cir. July 18, 2011)

A truly remarkable ERISA decision - the Fifth Circuit affirms the primacy of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), and affirms a judgment holding that the plan administrator must accept them, even where (as here) the plan had cause to believe that the divorce was a mere ploy by the married couple to lock in the lump-sum payment of a pension benefit.

Cyr v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., No. 07-56869 (9th Cir. June 22, 2011)

In an ERISA case of importance to employees seeking to collect benefits, the en banc Ninth Circuit cleans up some dicta in its prior case law and - without dissent - holds that parties other than benefit plans and plan administrators may be liable for payment of benefits under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B).

CIGNA Corp. v. Amara, No. 08-804 (U.S. S. Ct. May 16, 2011)

A huge win today for participants in pension and other employee benefit plans. The Supreme Court today issued its opinion on the perennial issue under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) about what weight a court should give to a summary plan description (SPD) that materially contradicts a plan instrument. It reaches the surprising conclusion - contrary to the standing law in most circuits - that an SPD is not part of an ERISA plan and hence not enforceable under ERISA § 502(b)(1)(B).  But it also holds that inconsistencies between an SPD and a plan may support judicial reformation of the plan under ERISA § 502(a)(3) and even monetary remedies in the form of "surcharge." This huge blessing for participants whose cases, up to this point, were often stalled by lower courts for want of "appropriate equitable relief."

Peabody v. Davis, No. 09-3428 (7th Cir. Apr. 12, 2011); George v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., No. 10-1469 (7th Cir. Apr. 11, 2011)

Feel that your retirement plan is ripping you off, either wholesale or nickels at a time? Two back-to-back decisions from the Seventh Circuit involving breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) hold that there might be a remedy under Section 502(a)(2) of that statute.

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