Benefits Litigation Update – September 2012

A Publication from Epstein Becker Green
and The ERISA Industry Committee

We are pleased to present the second edition of the Benefits Litigation Update, a joint project of Epstein Becker Green ("EBG") and ERIC (The ERISA Industry Committee). With an increase in litigation related to the provision of employee benefits, employers need to be just as aware of what the Courts are doing as they are about Congress and the regulators. We hope you find the latest issue of the Benefits Litigation Update interesting and informative.

To hear more about these issues, join us for the
EBG / ERIC conference call that will be held on
Thursday, September 13 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm (EDT).

Senior counsel from EBG will lead the discussion of the
key cases presented in this Update and address your questions.

To register for the call and receive the dial-in information,
send an e-mail to the following address: [email protected]


Practical Guidance for Employer Plan Sponsors
from the Tussey v. ABB, Inc., Decision

By: Daly D.E. Temchine and Kenneth J. Kelly

In the first edition of this newsletter published in April, we noted the decision in a class action brought on behalf of 401(k) plan participants, Tussey v. ABB, Inc., No. 2:06-CV-04305-NKL, 2012 WL 113291 (W.D. Mo. March 31, 2012). We remarked that the decision could be used as a vehicle for a refresher course about fundamental principles under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") that govern the administration of ERISA benefit plans by their employer sponsors. The court found the employer defendant in Tussey had failed to adhere to basic plan fiduciary administration principles that resulted in $37,000,000 in damages. We decided to follow up with an analysis of Tussey that would be useful to ERIC's members as they review their ERISA plan administrative structures for compliance with those principles and take appropriate actions to avoid a similar fate. . . .

Why It May Be Important to Your
Administration of Pension Plans for the

Supreme Court to Decide If Section 3 of the
Defense of Marriage Act Is Enforceable
By: Daly D.E. Temchine and Kenneth J. Kelly

Backgound: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") is unconstitutional (Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., No. 10-2204 (1st Cir. May 31, 2012). This provision defines "marriage" for purposes of federal laws as follows: "The word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." This means that federal laws do not recognize marriages of same sex spouses even if valid under a state's law. This definition impacts more than 1,000 federal laws . . .

Download the full Update here.