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Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

US Supreme Court to Consider ERISA’s Tracing Requirements

Posted in Remedies

On March 30, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review Bd. of Trustees of Nat. Elevator Indus. Health Ben. Plan v. Montanile, 593 F. App’x 903 (11th Cir. 2014). As discussed here, at issue in the case is whether an ERISA fiduciary of a health benefit plan, who alleges that a beneficiary was overpaid benefits, can enforce an equitable lien under ERISA § 502(a)(3) without identifying that the particular fund is within possession and control of the beneficiary.

Plan Administrator’s “Second Plan Interpretation” Violates Anti-Cutback Rule

Posted in Benefit Claims

The Third Circuit held that a plan administrator’s plan interpretation requiring an actuarial reduction of certain employees’ pension benefits conflicted with the plan’s terms.  As such, its decision to reduce participants’ benefits violated ERISA section 502(a)(1)(B), and also violated ERISA’s prohibition against cutbacks of accrued benefits.  Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules Beneficiary Designation Forms Are Not Documents and Instruments Governing the Plan

Posted in Benefit Claim Procedures, Designation of Beneficiaries, Multiemployer Pension Fund

In Becker v. Mays-Williams, 13-35069-cv, 2015 WL 348872 (9th Cir. Jan 28, 2015), the Ninth Circuit – in a matter of first impression – concluded that beneficiary designation forms were not “documents and instruments governing” an ERISA plan, as described in Section 404(a)(1)(d) of ERISA.  A participant called the plan office and telephonically re-designated his son as his beneficiary under the various plans in which he was a participant, rather than his ex-wife.  Continue Reading

U.S. District Court Rules that Float Income Earned by Fidelity Is Not a Plan Asset

Posted in Float Income

Four class actions were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts challenging whether float income earned on monies pending a transaction was a “plan asset.” In re Fidelity ERISA Float Income, No. 13-10222, 2015 WL 1061497 (D. Mass. March 11, 2015). Plaintiffs argued that if float was a plan asset, then Fidelity breached its fiduciary duties and committed a prohibited transaction by keeping this float income for its own benefit. Applying ordinary notions of property rights, the District Court held that float income was not a plan asset. Continue Reading

2015 PBGC Premium Filings Must Include Risk Transfer Disclosures

Posted in PBGC

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) recently finalized its premium filing requirements for 2015.  In addition to higher premium rates and other more minor changes, plan sponsors are now required to report information about the number of former employees involved in certain risk transfer activities (i.e., annuity purchases and lump sum windows) that occurred at least sixty days prior to the premium filing date in the current premium payment year or during the prior premium payment year.    Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules That Harmless Procedural Violation Does Not Alter Standard of Review

Posted in Benefit Claims

The Ninth Circuit held that a plan administrator’s failure to render a decision on a long-term disability benefits claim within the period mandated by the plan and ERISA did not alter the standard of review that the court should apply to the plan fiduciary’s decision concerning the claim.  Plaintiff Isela Dimery received long-term disability benefits until Reliance Standard Life Insurance, the plan administrator and fiduciary, declined to continue paying the benefits.  Continue Reading

Fiduciary Breach Claim Based On Oral Representation Can Proceed

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty

A federal district court in New Jersey held that oral misrepresentations may support a breach of fiduciary duty claim under ERISA.  Plaintiff Richard Lees was hired by American Re–Insurance Company, although he was paid by another entity called SMS.  When American sought to transfer Lees to its payroll, Lees allegedly agreed to the transfer only if he would be treated as if he had been on American’s payroll the entire time for the purpose of his pension benefits.  Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit: Hospital Enjoys Standing to Seek ERISA Benefits

Posted in Standing

The Fifth Circuit ruled that an out-of-network medical provider that was assigned a patient’s rights to health insurance benefits has standing to sue a health plan that underpays its portion of the benefits due even if the plan participant portion is paid in full.  North Cypress Medical Ctr. Operating Co., et al. v. Cigna Healthcare, et al., No. 12-20695 (5th Cir. Mar. 10, 2015).  Continue Reading

New HHS Regulations “Clarify” that Health Plans Covering Families Must Have “Embedded” Individual Cost-Sharing Limits

Posted in ACA, Affordable Care Act

On February 27, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2016.  The lengthy regulation covers a wide range of topics affecting group health plans, including minimum value, determination of the transitional reinsurance fee, and qualified health plan rates and other market reforms applicable to the group and individual insurance markets. Continue Reading

Breaching Fiduciary Cannot Seek Equitable Indemnity from Another Fiduciary

Posted in Remedies

A California federal district court dismissed a plan fiduciary’s equitable indemnity claim because such claims are not available to a breaching fiduciary under ERISA.  Plaintiff William Brown commenced a putative class action for long-term disability benefits.  Continue Reading