Archives: Fiduciary duties

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A Deadline is a Bright Line: How Fessenden Narrows “Substantial Compliance” in the Seventh Circuit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the deadline imposed under ERISA for plan administrators to decide on benefit claims is a “bright line” rule. The court held that when a plan administrator misses this deadline, the “substantial compliance” exception to statutory compliance does not apply and the plan … Continue Reading

EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK REFUSES TO ENFORCE AN ERISA ANTI-ASSIGNMENT PROVISION

The list of the federal courts of appeals enforcing unambiguous anti-assignment provisions in ERISA health benefit plans continues to grow:  almost exactly one year ago, the Third Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding “that anti-assignment clauses in ERISA-governed health insurance plans as a general matter are enforceable.” As the Third Circuit opinion noted, every … Continue Reading

EIGHTH CIRCUIT RULES AGAINST THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATOR IN CROSS-PLAN OFFSETTING IN GROUP HEALTH PLANS

 On January 15, 2019, the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., 913 F.3d, 769 (8th Cir. 2019), in which the Court upheld the federal district court’s holding that UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (“United”) was not authorized to reduce (or “offset”) payments to medical providers under ERISA group … Continue Reading

Could This Be Your Retirement Plan?

As reported by CBC, B.C. Pension Corporation announced a data breach involving pension plan records after discovering a box containing microfiche could not be found following a recent office move. The box contained personal information (names, social insurance numbers and dates of birth) on approximately 8,000 pension plan participants. The company employed those participants during the period 1982 to … Continue Reading

You’ve Discovered A Mistake in Your Plan Administration – Now What?

Occasionally qualified plan administrators discover that their plans have incurred an operational error.  The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) recognizes that it needs the help of plan administrators to police the administration of qualified plans and has correspondingly published guidance to help plan administrators take appropriate corrective action where necessary. IRS Correction Alternatives Revenue Procedure 2016-51, … Continue Reading

An Update on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

The DOL’s much anticipated (or maligned depending on the audience) Fiduciary Rule expands the definition of what constitutes investment advice under ERISA and thereby increases the number and types of retirement plan service providers that are considered ERISA fiduciaries (see our prior coverage of the Fiduciary Rule here, here and here).  It also imposes stringent … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Follows Majority of the Circuit Courts and Holds Plaintiff Bears the Burden of Proving Causation in ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Cases

On June 5, 2017, in Pioneer Centres Holding Co. Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Trust v. Alerus Fin., N.A., Case No. 15-1227, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the plaintiff bears the burden on each element of its breach of fiduciary duty claim under ERISA. Plaintiff brought suit for breach … Continue Reading

UPDATE ON UNIVERSITY SECTION 403(b) CASES: INCONSISTENT RULINGS

As a result of rulings on motions to dismiss within a day of each other (May 10 and 11, 2017, respectively), Emory University and Duke University must continue to defend claims challenging aspects of their Section 403(b) retirement plans in plaintiffs’ proposed class actions: Henderson v. Emory Univ., N.D. Ga., No. 1:16-cv-02920-CAP; and Clark v. … Continue Reading

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES FIDUCIARY RULE DELAY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS WHO SPONSOR RETIREMENT PLANS?

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently published a final regulation providing a 60-day extension (from April 10th to June 9th) of the applicability date for the Fiduciary Rule — the rule that expands the definition of an employee benefit plan “fiduciary” to include members of the financial services industry — as well as exemptions from … Continue Reading

DOL Announces Temporary Enforcement Policy and Proposes to Extend Application of Rules Under Best Interest Contract Exemption by 60 Days

In response to a February 3, 2017 memorandum by the President to the Secretary of Labor, on March 2, 2017, the DOL proposed to extend for 60 days the applicability date for final rules on the Best Interest Contract Exemption (the “BIC Exemption”), the Principal Transactions Exemption, certain other prohibited transaction exemptions, and the definition … Continue Reading

DOL Fiduciary Rule – A Proposed Delay and Uncertain Future

We’ve previously written about the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, which expands the definition of who is considered a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as amended (“ERISA”) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and which addresses related prohibited transaction exemptions. The rule was finalized in April 2016 and is currently … Continue Reading

President Trump Orders Review of DOL Fiduciary Rule and Addresses Financial Industry in Latest Actions

On February 3, 2017, President Trump took actions aimed at alleviating some of the regulatory burdens on the financial services industry. Through a Presidential Memorandum, President Trump ordered the DOL to “examine the Fiduciary Duty Rule to determine whether it may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial … Continue Reading

What to Expect in the Employee Benefits and ERISA World

President-elect Trump’s new administration will be in place in just two months.  Employers wonder about what the incoming administration will do with respect to workplace laws that impact them.  In the Employee Benefits and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) world, what comes to mind immediately are the Affordable Care Act and the Department of … Continue Reading

Employee Benefit Issues to Keep You Awake at Night

Last week I made a presentation in the Omaha office of Jackson Lewis with the above title. I thought it might be helpful to outline the basic points of my presentation.  The following items should keep you awake at night unless you can comfortably answer them: Does your employer have ERISA fiduciary insurance? If you … Continue Reading

TCB on the BIC: DOL Issues Guidance on Application of the Fiduciary Rule’s New Best Interest Contract Prohibited Transaction Exemption

On October 27, the DOL published guidance on the new prohibited transaction exemptions (“PTEs”) issued under the DOL’s rule redefining “fiduciary” in the context of providing investment advice (See “Guidance,” here). Intended as a means to provide protections to retirement investors, the Fiduciary Rule and related PTEs require all those providing retirement investment advice to … Continue Reading

Pension Plan Suffers Cybersecurity Attack, ERISA Advisory Council Offers Cybersecurity Recommendations to DOL

It has been reported that infamous bank robber, Slick Willie Sutton, once said, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.” Data thieves, understandably, have a similar strategy – go where the data is. The retail industry knows this as it has been a popular target for payment card data. The healthcare and certain … Continue Reading

“Hire Me” Exception Offers Little Real World Protection

Financial Advisers and retail financial services firms face a number of challenges in dealing with the new fiduciary rule the Department of Labor announced this spring. But little did they know that they may confront the issues from their first contact with a potential client. That’s right—even before selling their advisory services, these new fiduciary … Continue Reading

Employee Benefit Plans and Data Security Issues

In recent weeks, much of the discussion around a recent Supreme Court case, Gobeille, has focused on ERISA preemption. But for fiduciaries of benefit plans the case can serve as a reminder of important duties that often go unexplored—protecting the private data of participants. Briefly, the case challenged a Vermont law that required reporting of … Continue Reading

SUPREME COURT REBUKES NINTH CIRCUIT’S DISREGARD OF PRUDENCE PRECEDENT FOR EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS

For the second time in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit because of its failure to apply the proper pleading standard for claims alleging breach of the duty of prudence against fiduciaries who manage employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The Supreme Court’s opinion sets forth a specific, stringent pleading standard … Continue Reading

Are Employee Life Insurance Benefit Plans Worth the Risk of Litigation After CIGNA Corp. v. Amara?

Five years ago, Chief Justice Roberts observed: “People make mistakes. Even administrators of ERISA plans.” Conkright v. Frommert, 559 U.S. 506, 509 (2010). Four years ago, searching for a mechanism to provide monetary relief for such mistakes under ERISA, the Supreme Court reached into the desiccated maw of early 19th century trust law and pulled … Continue Reading

401(k) Plan Investment Committee Best Practices After Tibble v. Edison

On May 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, held that an ERISA fiduciary responsible for the selection of ERISA plan investment choices has an ongoing duty to monitor such choices. As discussed in greater detail in our May 18th Benefits Law Advisor post, Tibble v. Edison International, No. 13-550 (U.S. … Continue Reading
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