Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

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

Category Archives: Withdrawal Liability

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Second Circuit Prohibits Retroactive Changes to Withdrawal Liability Interest Rate Assumptions

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 an … Continue Reading

PBGC Adopts AAA’s Amended Withdrawal Liability Arbitration Rules

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 … Continue Reading

Sun Capital Update: First Circuit Reverses District Court’s “Partnership-in-Fact” Holding and Finds Private Equity Funds Not Part of Controlled Group and Not Liable for Portfolio Company’s Pension Liabilities

Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that two co-investing Sun Capital private equity funds (the Sun Funds)[1] had not created an implied “partnership-in-fact” for purposes of determining whether the Sun Funds were under “common control” with their portfolio company, Scott Brass, Inc. (SBI) – resulting in a ruling that … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Holds Withdrawal Liability Cannot Be “Decelerated”

The Seventh Circuit held that a multiemployer pension fund’s withdrawal liability claim was barred by the six-year statute of limitations applicable to claims under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA).  After the employer failed to make several quarterly withdrawal liability payments, the fund declared the employer to be in default, accelerated its withdrawal liability, … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Rejects “Big Buyer” Defense to Successor Liability

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, 2018 WL … Continue Reading

Sun Capital Court Finds Co-Investing Funds Part of Controlled Group and Liable for Portfolio Company’s Pension Liabilities

As we previously reported, in Sun Capital, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held in 2013 that a private investment fund, pursuant to the so-called “investment plus” test first articulated by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the PBGC), was engaged in a “trade or business” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act … Continue Reading

“Highest Contribution Rate” Means Highest of Any CBA for ERISA Withdrawal Liability Payments

The Third Circuit held that where an employer has been party to multiple collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) with a multiemployer fund, an employer’s withdrawal liability should be based on “the single highest contribution rate” established under the CBAs.  In so ruling, the Court observed that ERISA requires annual withdrawal liability payments to be based on … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Applies “Successorship Doctrine” to Claim for MPPAA Withdrawal Liability

The Ninth Circuit concluded in a case of first impression that an employer could be held liable for its predecessor’s withdrawal liability to a multiemployer pension fund pursuant to the “successorship doctrine.”  The Court ruled that “the most important factor in assessing whether an employer is a successor for purposes of imposing MPPAA withdrawal liability … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Allows Bankruptcy Discharge of ERISA Withdrawal Liability

The Ninth Circuit recently held that an employer who failed to pay $170,045 in withdrawal liability could discharge the liability in bankruptcy. Carpenters Pension Trust Fund v. Moxley, No. 11-16133 (9th Cir. August 20, 2013). In so ruling, the Court rejected the Fund’s argument that unpaid withdrawal liability constituted a plan asset. The Court distinguished … Continue Reading

Equitable Exception To Excuse Interim Withdrawal Liability Payments Rejected

A federal district court in New Jersey recently declined to apply an equitable exception to excuse an employer’s failure to pay interim withdrawal liability payments while it challenged the demand for withdrawal liability. Nat’l Integrated Grp. Pension Plan v. Black Millwork Co., 2:11-cv-05072-KM-MAH (D.N.J. August 1, 2013). After making one withdrawal liability payment, the employer … Continue Reading

Private Investment Funds May Be Liable For Portfolio Company’s Underfunded Pension Liabilities Under First Circuit Ruling

On July 24, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled in Sun Capital Partners III, LP v. New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund (No. 12-2312, 2013 WL 3814984) that a private equity investment fund was engaged in a “trade or business” under ERISA, and, therefore, could be part of … Continue Reading

District Court Limits the Collection of Withdrawal Liability Against Private Equity Funds

In Sun Capital Partners III, LP v. New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund, 2012 WL 5197117 (D. Mass. Oct. 18, 2012), a federal district court in Massachusetts concluded that a private equity fund was not a “trade or business” subject to the imposition of withdrawal liability and thus was not responsible for paying … Continue Reading
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