In Svenhard’s Swedish Bakery v. United States Bakery, Bk. No. 19-15277, 2023 WL 5541420 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2023), the Ninth Circuit held that a settlement agreement that resolved an employer’s withdrawal liability to a multiemployer pension fund was not an executory contract that could be assumed and assigned to a third-party when that employer subsequently filed for bankruptcy. The decision is instructive for multiemployer funds and employers that negotiate settlement agreements to resolve these types of liabilities.
Anthony S. Cacace is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group. Anthony serves as legal counsel to the boards of trustees and other fiduciaries of Taft-Hartley multiemployer pension and welfare benefit plans subject to ERISA in a variety of industries. These include construction, transportation, private sanitation, trucking, industrial, health care and maritime.
Anthony’s representation of trustees and other fiduciaries ranges from counseling on the day-to-day operations of multiemployer funds, including:
- drafting plan documents, amendments and procedures;
- negotiating and drafting fund service provider agreements;
- counseling with respect to participant claims; and
- providing legal advice with respect to requirements of ERISA and the IRC.
His practice also includes more complex and high stakes scenarios, such as:
- advising on fund mergers;
- advising on fund acquisitions of real property;
- drafting and submitting corrective applications to the IRS; and
- counseling fiduciaries in investigations and audits by governmental agencies (including the U.S. DOL, U.S. DOJ and the IRS).
Anthony’s practice is unique because of his specialization in ERISA litigation. He advises trustees and fiduciaries from a litigation avoidance perspective, solving problems and rendering advice in risk exposure situations before they evolve into disputes or litigations. A skilled litigator, he often defends trustees and fiduciaries in lawsuits brought pursuant to ERISA, alleging claims for breaches of fiduciary duty, benefit claim denials, plan investment losses and improper plan amendments. In addition, he regularly represents his fund clients as plaintiffs in court, seeking to collect withdrawal liability and delinquent contributions from contributing employers.
Anthony is an accomplished author and speaker on issues confronting trustees of multiemployer funds. He has authored several articles featured in Bloomberg Law Reports and Benefits Magazine, and also serves as a chapter editor of the withdrawal liability section of the American Bar Association's Employee Benefits Law treatise published by BNA. Anthony is routinely invited to speak at International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans conferences and the ABA Employee Benefits Committee mid-winter meetings.
The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (“CAA”) requires new disclosures for brokers and other consultants providing services to certain group health plans. Under the CAA, “covered service providers” must disclose their “direct” and “indirect” compensation above $1,000 received during the term of the contract or arrangement to a responsible plan fiduciary of a…
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a withdrawal liability decision of which both multiemployer pension plans and their contributing employers should be aware. Specifically, in National Retirement Fund v. Metz Culinary Management, Inc., No. 17-1211, 2020 WL 20524 (Jan. 2, 2020), the Second Circuit held that the interest rate used to calculate…
Beginning January 1, 2020, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) will: (i) reduce filing fees charged to parties initiating arbitrations of withdrawal liability disputes; (ii) change how costs of arbitrations are allocated among the parties to the disputes; and (iii) amend the process for resolving arbitrator selection disputes.
The new filing fees are modest in comparison…
Proskauer’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group will be attending and speaking at the 65th Annual Employee Benefits Conference hosted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Robert Projansky, Neal Schelberg and Anthony Cacace will be leading conversations around hot topics in the industry. We welcome you to join any of our presentations, we…
For a multiemployer pension fund to hold an asset purchaser liable for withdrawal liability as a successor-in-interest, the fund must establish that the purchaser was (i) on notice of the seller’s withdrawal liability, and (ii) the purchaser “substantially continued” the seller’s operations. In Ind. Elec. Workers Pension Benefit Fund v. ManWeb Servs., No. 16-cv-2840,…
In a benefits law edition of The Proskauer Brief, senior counsel Anthony Cacace and partner Robert Projansky discuss how severance plans can be subject to ERISA. They also discuss the key advantages of having severance pay arrangements covered by ERISA and what employers can do to design plans that comply with the substantive and procedural…
ERISA plan fiduciaries charged with responsibility for selecting, monitoring or removing plan investment options should pay close attention to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Tibble v. Edison Intl., 135 S. Ct. 1823 (2015). In that decision, the Court ruled that ERISA’s duty of prudence involves “a continuing duty to monitor investments and remove imprudent ones.” Although the Court did not elaborate on what it viewed to be the scope of an ERISA plan fiduciary’s duty to monitor, the plaintiffs’ bar is already seizing on the ruling as a potential basis for asserting new claims based on a failure to monitor prudently plan investments and other plan functions. Thus, plan fiduciaries are advised to establish a thoughtful and appropriate procedure for monitoring plan investment options, to diligently follow that procedure when monitoring plan investment options, and to make and preserve a written record reflecting that they followed their procedure in every regard. Taking these steps will put fiduciaries in a favorable position should emboldened plan participants file lawsuits challenging whether fiduciaries fulfilled their duty to monitor plan investment options based on the perceived plaintiff-friendly Tibble ruling.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an ERISA plan participant may allege that a plan fiduciary breached the duty of prudence by not properly monitoring the plan’s investment options as long as the alleged breach of the continuing duty occurred within six years of the suit.
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.