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Federal District Court Holds that Equitable Estoppel is not Viable Theory in Pension Plan Cases

Two participant-plaintiffs in a multiemployer pension plan each received a notice from the plan administrator that it was rescinding certain benefits and requesting approximately $40,000 in repayments. In granting defendant?ÇÖs motion to dismiss the plaintiffs‘?á equitable estoppel claim, the federal district court held that equitable estoppel may be a viable theory in ERISA cases involving welfare plans, but is not a viable theory for cases regarding ERISA pension benefit plans, especially in the absence of evidence of ambiguity in the plan provisions. Crawford v. PIUMPF, No. 3:10-00628 (M.D.Tenn. May 23, 2011).

House Panel Approves Measure to Repeal CEO Pay Rule from Dodd-Frank Act

Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act requires public issuers to disclose the median annual total income for all employees except the CEO, the annual total income of the CEO, and the ratio comparing the two figures.?á?á The Burdensome Data Collection Relief Act (H.R. 1062), repealing Section 953(b), was introduced by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) in March. ?áThe House Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee received testimony about the enormous burden and complexity Section 953(b) poses to publicly traded companies and the little corresponding benefit to investors. On May 4, 2011, the Subcommittee passed H.R. 1062 and forwarded it to the full committee.

IRS Requests Comments on ?Ç£Shared Responsibility?Ç¥ Provisions of Health Reform

The Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2011-36 (the ?Ç£Notice?Ç¥) addressing the shared responsibility provisions of health reform that will go into effect after December 31, 2013. The Notice includes a request for comments on the process of developing regulatory guidance regarding the shared employer responsibility provisions in the Internal Revenue Code. Added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the shared responsibility provisions will, after 2013, impose a penalty on applicable large employers that fail to meet certain standards for providing affordable health coverage to their full-time employees. The Notice describes potential approaches which could be incorporated into future regulations, such as who is a full-time employee for purposes of Section 4980H. Any comments must be submitted by June 17, 2011. The Notice is available here.

Decision to Exclude Stock Payments in Benefit Calculations Upheld by Seventh Circuit

In a recent Seventh Circuit decision, the appellate panel upheld a company?ÇÖs decision to exclude stock-linked bonus payments when calculating benefits under the company?ÇÖs Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (?Ç£Plan?Ç¥). Plaintiff, John W. Comrie, chief legal officer of IPSCO Enterprises, Inc., sought to have stock-linked bonuses included in the calculation of his benefits under the Plan. Such benefits are based on the number of years of service the executive has with the company, times?átwo percent of his final five years average compensation. The administrative committee concluded that stock-linked compensation is bonus compensation under the Plan and thus not included in average compensation in the calculation of benefits under the Plan. The Seventh Circuit appellate panel reversed the summary judgment granted by the district court in favor of the defendant, and held that the committee did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in concluding that stock-linked compensation is properly excluded from the calculation… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Will Not Rush Review of Virginia Case Challenging the Health Reform?ÇÖs Constitutionality

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the Virginia Attorney General?ÇÖs request for an expedited review of the earlier ruling made by a Virginia federal district court that the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. The district court’s decision has been appealed to the federal court of appeals and is currently awaiting a mid-May hearing. The Virginia Attorney General had asked the Supreme Court for an immediate review of this decision but the Supreme Court denied such request without comment.

May 2011