McDermott Will & Emery’s Michael B. Kimberly, Sarah P. Hogarth and Andrew C. Liazos, are co-counsel on a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC). The petition calls for review of ERIC’s legal challenge to the City of Seattle’s hotel healthcare “play or pay” ordinance. The ordinance mandates hospitality employers make specified monthly healthcare expenditures for their covered local employees if their healthcare plans do not meet certain requirements. The petition demonstrates that Seattle’s ordinance is a clear attempt to control the benefits provided under medical plans in violation of the preemption provision under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). This case is of significant national importance. Several other cities have proposed making similar changes, and complying with these types of ordinances will substantially constrain the ability of employers to control the terms of their medical plans on a uniform basis. ERIC’s petition is joined by several trade associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Benefits Council and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
The US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Sulyma v. Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee, a case in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to actually read materials in order to start the running of ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations. ERISA § 413(2) bars actions more than three years after “the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation,” and the Ninth Circuit held that a plaintiff who receives all the relevant information relating to her claim, but does not read it or does not recall reading it, does not have “actual knowledge” to start the limitations period. The Sixth Circuit, however, has held differently; in Brown v. Owens Corning Investment Review Committee, 622 F.3d 564, 571 (6th Cir. 2010), it held that the failure to read documents will not shield a plaintiff from having actual knowledge of the documents’ contents. Several district courts have held similarly, determining that the three-year limitations period begins when the plaintiff receives the relevant information, whether she reads it or not. (more…)
On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to review the Second Circuit’s decision in Jander v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, a “stock drop” lawsuit against IBM’s benefit plan fiduciaries. The Second Circuit’s decision marked one of the few times a federal court permitted a “stock drop” lawsuit to survive dismissal since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Fifth Third Bank v. Dudenhoeffer (2012) and Harris v. Amgen (2016). (more…)