ERISA Stock Drop Cases Since Dudenhoeffer: The Pleading Standard Has Been Raised

JOSEPH C. FAUCHER AND DYLAN R. RUDOLPH, DECEMBER 13, 2017   This article analyzes the Dudenhoeffer pleading standard and “stock drop” cases. It was first published by Wolters Kluwer in the Journal of Pension Benefits, Spring 2017, Vol. 24, No. 3. I. Introduction Before 2014, most of the federal Courts of Appeals applied a “presumption of prudence” when […]

New Wave of Retirement Fee Litigation: The University 403(b) Lawsuits

CLARISSA A. KANG, January 2017   The fiduciaries of retirement plans for 12 major universities have been hit with coordinated lawsuits asserting breaches of fiduciary duty arising from allegedly excessive fees for administrative and investment management services, imprudent selection and monitoring of recordkeepers and investment options, underperforming plan investment options, and a “paralyzing” array of […]

The Fifth Circuit Emphasizes that Conclusory Statements will not Satisfy the Pleading Standard for Stock Drop Lawsuits

FREEMAN L. LEVINRAD, October 2016    On September 26, 2016, the Fifth Circuit, in Whitley v. BP, P.L.C. (“Whitley”), 2016 WL 5387678 (2016), emphasized that conclusory statements will not satisfy the pleading standard for complaints alleging breaches of fiduciary duty related to retirement plans’ investment in employer stock (commonly known as stock-drop cases), as established in […]

The Enforceability of ERISA Forum Selection Clauses — Two Recent “Against-the-Trend” Cases and an Uncertain Future

JAHIZ NOEL AGARD, September 2016 For those interested in the law of ERISA forum selection clauses, 2016 has been a year to remember. The majority of courts to address this issue have ruled in favor of enforcing forum selection clauses. However, going against the trend, two federal district courts recently determined that forum selection clauses […]

Ninth Circuit Clarifies Remedies for Failure to Provide Documents Relevant to a Benefit Claim

DYLAN D. RUDOLPH, August 2016 — This summer, the Ninth Circuit quieted any uncertainty about the viability of claims for procedural penalties against plan administrators based on claimants’ requests, under a Plan’s benefit claims procedures, for documents related to their benefit claim. In Lee v. ING Groep, N.V., No. 14-15848, — F.3d — (9th Cir. […]

ERISA Litigation Continues a Plaintiff-Friendly Trend

JOE FAUCHER, June 2016 An unmistakable trend in the world of employee benefit plan litigation is underway, and that trend is decidedly in favor of plaintiffs. The trend has manifested itself in several ways. For example, several years ago, courts routinely entered early dismissals of cases alleging that very large companies breached their fiduciary duties […]

Ninth Circuit Decision Creates Uncertainty Regarding the Burden of Proof in Benefit Claim Cases

JOSEPH C. FAUCHER, April 2016 – Citing the 1977 animated TV special It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that might have a significant impact on who has the burden of proof in ERISA benefit claims. In Estate of Barton v. ADT Security Services Pension Plan, […]

Case Update: Ninth Circuit Revisits Tibble v. Edison International

ANGEL L. GARRETT, April 2016 – As we previously reported, on May 18, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in favor of the plan participants in Tibble v. Edison International, 135 S. Ct. 1823 (2015).  In October 2014, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ petition for writ of certiorari to solely address whether […]

Supreme Court’s Gobeille Decision Delivers a Win for Self-Funded Health Plan Sponsors

MICHELLE SCHULLER LEWIS, March 2016 – On March 1, 2016, the United States Supreme Court in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company effectively hindered states’ efforts to collect health data from self-funded welfare benefit plans by holding in a 6-2 decision that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) preempts a Vermont statute […]

SCOTUS Smackdown: In Amgen v. Harris, the Supreme Court Reverses the Ninth Circuit a Second Time and Reaffirms Special Pleading Standard Applicable in ERISA Stock Drop Cases

SEAN T. STRAUSS, February 2016 – On January 25, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court in Amgen Inc. v. Harris held that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals failed to properly implement the Supreme Court’s pleading standards for a complaint that alleged breaches of fiduciary duty related to retirement plans’ investment in employer stock. In a […]

What Plans and Plan Fiduciaries Need to Know about Montanile: Supreme Court Narrows ERISA Plan Reimbursement Rights

GISUE MEHDI, January 2016 On January 20, 2016, in a blow to ERISA plans and plan fiduciaries, the Supreme Court held in Montanile v. Bd. of Trustees of Nat. Elevator Indus. Health Ben. Plan, 2016 WL 228344, 577 U.S. __ (2016), that when a participant receives a settlement from a third-party for an injury and […]

Buyers Beware!  Ninth Circuit Holds that a Company May Be Subject to Withdrawal Liability as a Successor Employer under the “Successorship Doctrine”

ANGEL L. GARRETT and ALYSSA OHANIAN, October 2015 — On September 11, 2015, the Ninth Circuit, in Resilient Floor Covering Pension Trust Fund Board of Trustees v. Michael’s Floor Covering, Inc., Case No. 12-17675, 2015 WL 5295091, joined the Seventh Circuit in holding that an employer may be subject to withdrawal liability as a successor […]

Must Benefit Denial Letters Inform Claimants of a Plan’s Time Limit for Bringing a Lawsuit?

CLARISSA A. KANG, September 2015 — “Yes,” says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit in Mirza v. Insurance Administrator of America, Inc., et al. recently held that a plan administrator violated section 503 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) for failing to disclose in a […]

Supreme Court’s Tibble Decision Provides Little Guidance

MICHELLE S. LEWIS, July 2015 — The Supreme Court has issued a unanimous opinion in favor of plan participants in Tibble v. Edison International, 135 S. Ct. 1823 (2015), a case that raised an issue on the amount of time a plan participant has to bring a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. […]

“An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure”: The Ninth Circuit’s Holding in Spinedex Lowers the Bar For Plaintiffs Seeking ERISA Plan Benefits In Court

VIRGINIA PERKINS, December 2014 — On November 5, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Spinedex Physical Therapy USA, Inc. v. United Healthcare of Arizona, Inc., 770 F.3d 1282 (9th Cir. 2014), of potentially great importance to sponsors and administrators of ERISA plans. Of particular interest are the Ninth Circuit’s holdings that: A contractual […]

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