ERISA Litigation

“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 […]

The Impact of Dudenhoeffer on Lower Court Stock-Drop Cases

ALYSSA OHANIAN, December 2014 — The Supreme Court recently held in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (2014), that employer stock ownership plan (“ESOP”) fiduciaries are not entitled to a special presumption that they acted prudently in investing in employer stock. Rather, ESOP fiduciaries are subject to the same duty of prudence […]

Gabriel Revisited

SEAN T. STRAUSS, December 2014 — In our June 2014 newsletter, we discussed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, 755 F.3d 647 (9th Cir. 2014). Following a petition for rehearing, the Ninth Circuit recently withdrew its earlier opinion and issued a new decision. See, Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, […]

COBRA Compliance and the Health Flexible Spending Account Carryover

ELIZABETH L. LOH, October  2014 — In Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Notice 2013-71, the IRS issued guidance allowing Health Flexible Spending Accounts (“Health FSAs”) to offer carryovers of unused balances of up to $500 remaining at the end of a plan year to be used for qualified medical expenses in a subsequent plan year (See […]

A New Approach to Abuse of Discretion Review

ALYSSA OHANIAN and CLARISSA KANG, September 2014 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently applied a searching analysis under the abuse of discretion standard of review — one that takes into account all circumstances and will not uphold denial simply if there is a single reasonable basis to deny benefits — even where there […]

Not So Much: The Ninth Circuit Clarifies Whether the Supreme Court’s Decision in Amara Vastly Expanded Remedies Available Under ERISA § 502(a)(3)

SEAN T. STRAUSS, June 2014 — In Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, — F.3d —, 2014 WL 2535469 (9th Cir. June 6, 2014), the Ninth Circuit provided its most comprehensive discussion to date of the scope of remedies available to plaintiffs seeking “appropriate equitable relief” pursuant to ERISA § 502(a)(3) (29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3)) […]

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