Seyfarth Synopsis: Another court has found that actuaries who set discount rates for withdrawal liability purposes that are not based upon their “best estimate of anticipated experience” for investments under the plan—in this case, basing the rate assumption only on estimated returns for 40% of the Plan’s assets in low risk fixed income investments
ERISA Case Signals New Theories for Plaintiffs’ Bar
By: Cassandra Frias and Ada Dolph
Seyfarth Synopsis: After focusing most of its attention on retirement benefit plans, a recent complaint filed in the District of Connecticut shows that the plaintiffs’ bar is turning to health and welfare plans as targets for their new theories of breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA.
Plaintiff Aubrey Srednicki…
A New Standard For Full and Fair Review
By: Ian Morrison & Jules Levenson
Seyfarth Synopsis: The 7th Circuit recently held that insurers and administrators must provide claimants an opportunity to respond to new information relied on for adverse benefit determinations, even if the claim predated the enactment of the relevant regulation.
In Zall v. Standard Ins. Co., 58 F.4th 284…
Courts Continue to Scrutinize Arbitration Clauses in ERISA Plans
By: Tom Horan and Sam Schwartz-Fenwick
Seyfarth Synopsis: A recent district court decision highlights the continued uncertainties about what it means to include an arbitration clause in an ERISA plan. While courts generally agree that such clauses are, in theory, enforceable, the extent to which courts will enforce a specific clause remains uncertain given divergent…
Can 401(k) Fee Dispute Cases Survive Based on Bare Allegations Supported by Monday-Morning Quarterbacking?
By: Ryan Tikker
2022 has seen an increase in putative class actions brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (29 U.S.C. §§ 1109 and 1132) against plan fiduciaries. Plaintiffs typically allege that plan fiduciaries breached the duties that ERISA imposes of employee retirement plans, namely, that the fiduciaries breached their duties of loyalty…
Ninth Circuit Clarifies De Novo Review Standard and Newly-Raised Arguments in ERISA Litigation
By: Ryan Tikker
Recently, the Ninth Circuit addressed and further clarified the requirement of a “full and fair review” in the context of a long-term disability benefit case under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In matters that go to litigation, the Ninth Circuit held that a district court may not rely on rationales…
ERISA Fiduciary Breach Litigation Can Involve Complicated Damages Analyses
By: Mark Casciari and Michael Cederoth
Seyfarth Synopsis: If an ERISA plaintiff establishes a fiduciary breach, expect the computation of damages to be a complicated process that may enhance damages through judgment. And a court judgment in complicated cases can take years to issue. This is the lesson from a recent decision of the Court…
Seventh Circuit Rejects Plan’s Attempt to Compel Individual Arbitration of Participant’s Fiduciary Breach Claims
By: Tom Horan, Ian Morrison, and Sam Schwartz-Fenwick
Seyfarth Synopsis: Recognizing that the Plan contained an unambiguous arbitration provision, and that “ERISA claims are generally arbitrable,” the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals nonetheless found that arbitration could not be compelled where the provision prospectively barred the plaintiff from pursuing certain statutory remedies.
In Smith v.
Federal Court Allows Discovery In ERISA Case Based On “Information And Belief” Allegations That Plaintiff Merely Believed To Be True
By Mark Casciari and James Hlawek
Seyfarth Synopsis: A federal district court denied a motion to dismiss an ERISA complaint that was based in large part on secondhand “information and belief” allegations about the defendants’ business operations. The decision serves as a warning to defendants that they may be forced into costly discovery based on…
Positive Employer Risk Management: Ninth Circuit Approves ERISA Plan Forum Selection Clause
By Jules Levenson and Mark Casciari
Seyfarth Synopsis: In a decision with major significance for ERISA plans, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the validity of forum selection clauses in those plans.
ERISA is replete with details. Among them is the proper forum for litigation under the statute. ERISA lists…