After three years without hearing any significant Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled three prominent lawsuits during its current term, which began on Oct. 1.
A recent study found that while ERISA cases have a profound impact on retirement benefits for millions of Americans, justices consider them as some of the least enjoyable cases to review, with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor even describing them as “tedious.”
ERISA cases address various issues
The nonprofit ERISA Industry Committee says the three cases that will be argued before the high court over the next several months will have a significant impact on the types of benefits and plans that employers choose to offer. The cases are:
- IBM v. Larry Jander: Justices will reconsider their own unanimous 2014 ruling, which established guidelines for lower courts that hear stock-drop complaints. It could also decide whether plaintiffs can overcome dismissals when fraud costs grow over time. The case is expected to be heard on Nov. 6.
- Intel v. Sulyma: Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 6 on a breach lawsuit questioning the extent that defined contribution sponsors are accountable for conveying investment lineup features, the responsibility for participants in understanding them and how much time they have to challenge rulings.
- Thole v. U.S. Bank: No date has been set for this case, which questions whether defined benefit participants can sue over fiduciary violations even if the plan is well-funded and even if they haven’t seen financial losses. Several groups, including AARP, believe the case is more about holding fiduciaries accountable rather than funding levels.
Seek legal advice for ERISA denials
Denials over long-term disability claims and life insurance benefits are common occurrences, as insurance companies look to pay as little as possible, and many expect you to give up on seeking the amount you deserve. If you receive a denial or termination letter over these benefits, an experienced ERISA attorney will help with your appeal and work to recover the benefits for which you are entitled.