ERISA & Employee Benefits

Jordan Mamorsky

Plan Sponsor and Service Provider Submit Dueling Motions to Dismiss in Response to Data Breach Suit

Further demonstrating the lack of clarity on who is liable when a plan suffers a data breach, on June 30th, Abbott Laboratories and Alight Solutions, pointed fingers at each other in dueling motions to dismiss a complaint that alleged both were fiduciaries in connection with a plan data breach that stole $245,000 from a participant’s plan account. The Northern District of Illinois will now have ...

Court Decision Highlights the Dangers of Cybersecurity Breaches for Both Plan Sponsors and Plan Service Providers

On May 27, 2020, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in Leventhal v. MandMarblestone Group, LLC, handed down a decision that highlights the dangers facing both plan sponsors and plan service providers when a cybersecurity breach results in money stolen from a participant’s account. The court ruled that the TPA service provider, after being sued by the plan sponsor for the cybersecurity breach, ...

Supreme Court Concludes Defined Benefit Pension Plan Participants Do Not Have Standing To Bring Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim

The Supreme Court has long recognized that one of ERISA's principal purposes was to make “sure that if a worker has been promised a defined pension benefit upon retirement - and if he has fulfilled whatever conditions are required to obtain a vested benefit - he actually will receive it.” See e.g., Nachman Corp. v. Pension Ben. Guar. Corp., 446 U.S. 359, 375 (1980). On June 1, 2020, the Supreme ...

Supreme Court's Actual Knowledge Decision Underscores Importance of Plan Administrator Best Practices

The Supreme Court settled the debate over what constitutes "actual knowledge" in the context of an ERISA fiduciary breach claim in a unanimous and simple decision that applied dictionary definitions of the term "actual" to find that the fiduciary breach knowledge requirement means that "the plaintiff must in fact have become aware of that information." The Intel Investment Policy Committee v. ...

Eighth Circuit Delivers Guidance on Whether Rate Setting Amounts to Fiduciary Conduct

Courts have long struggled to set the boundaries at which point ERISA plan service providers exert sufficient control and discretion over plan assets to make them fiduciaries under ERISA 3(21). The significance of being an ERISA fiduciary is self-evident in the litigation context: if an entity is not an ERISA fiduciary, then it cannot be liable for a breach of ERISA's fiduciary duties and ...

ERISA Case in the District Court for the Southern District of New York Highlights Plan Sponsor QDRO Responsibilities

A sometimes forgotten issue in a divorce, separation, or other domestic relations proceeding is the division of retirement plan benefits between former partners and/or husband and wife. While the general rule is that ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code do not permit a participant to assign or alienate the participant's interest in a retirement plan to another person, a developed exception to the ...

Two Opinions Demonstrate Importance of Prudent Administrative Procedures and Substantive Decisions in Responding to ERISA Benefit Claims

One of the most common and important tasks for ERISA plan fiduciaries is how to appropriately respond to plan participant claims for benefits. When the decision is made to deny benefits to claimants, the importance of having in place prudent protocols and procedures is magnified, and closely following those procedures on an administrative and substantive basis could make a key difference, ...

Petition For Rehearing and Supporting Amicus Briefs Filed In Schwab ERISA Arbitration Case

In August of this year, a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel ruled in Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corporation, DC No. 4:17-cv-00285-CW, 2019 WL 3939644 (9th Cir. August 20, 2019) that a plan document's arbitration provision could bar class action allegations of breach of fiduciary duty brought on behalf of the plan under ERISA §502(a)(2). ERISA §502(a)(2) authorizes the Secretary of Labor, ...

Supreme Court Amicus Brief Shows How High the Stakes Really are for the Future of ERISA's "Actual Knowledge" Requirement

The battle over what constitutes "actual knowledge" of an ERISA fiduciary breach or violation ratcheted up a notch with the filing of an amicus brief in Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, on behalf of several of the largest trade associations in the retirement investment advisory and employee benefits industry. The Intel amicus brief, filed on behalf of large trade ...

Ninth Circuit Changes its Position on the Enforceability of Arbitration of Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims Under ERISA §502(a)(2)

The Ninth Circuit, in Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corporation, modified its position on the enforceability of arbitration agreements to ERISA claims of breach of fiduciary duty on behalf of the plan under ERISA Section 502(a)(2). The Court found an arbitration provision in the plan document was enforceable against the plaintiff. The Dorman decision may encourage plan sponsors to amend plan ...