Spencer Fane LLP Logo
Latest Posts

THE FIDUCIARY CORNER: Abdicating Duties Does Not Prevent Liability

When companies fail to remit 401(k) plan contributions, the Department of Labor almost always looks for – and usually finds – fiduciaries to hold responsible. Cases such as these often can be traced to financially troubled plan sponsors trying desperately to juggle the claims of competing creditors. Employee salary deferral contributions somehow become mixed with company cash, and thus delayed on their way to the trust account.

Are You Ready For SEC Redemption Fee Rules?

Market timing and other short-term trading patterns impose costs on mutual funds by disrupting management, forcing funds to maintain excessive liquidity, and driving up tax expenditures.

DOL Modifies Exemption for Loans Made to Plans

Many sponsors of employee benefit plans have found it necessary to lend money to a plan, as a way of easing a liquidity problem or otherwise facilitating the plan’s operation. Such loans have occurred in the context of failed insurance companies, other illiquid assets, or delays in the disbursement of distributions by plan trustees or custodians. Because a plan sponsor is a “party-in-interest,” however, such a loan constitutes a “prohibited transaction” under both ERISA and the parallel Tax Code provisions.

IRS Issues Final Relative Value Regulations

The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations governing the disclosure of the financial effect and relative value of optional payment forms offered under defined benefit and money-purchase pension plans. Such plans must describe these optional forms (and their relative values) in the qualified joint and survivor annuity (“QJSA”) explanation they are required to provide to participants just before their benefit commencement date.

THE FIDUCIARY CORNER: Information Requests Should Be Honored–Promptly

Ignoring a participant’s request for copies of plan documents and SPDs is never a good idea. It is even less so when the participant has already filed a lawsuit against the plan sponsor or its fiduciaries, and when the letter comes from the participant’s attorney. A federal judge in Tennessee imparted this lesson to Nissan North America, Inc. in a decision earlier this year.

Plans Cannot Treat Domestic Partners As Spouses

Two recent private letter rulings by the Internal Revenue Service confirm that domestic partners – even when granted the same rights as married couples under state law – cannot be treated as spouses by retirement plans.

Minimal Employer Involvement May Create ERISA Plan

Yet another recent federal court opinion reminds us that ERISA plans – and thus ERISA obligations – may be created even when they are not intended. While an Ohio court was construing the “payroll practices” exemption from ERISA in the Langley case (see “What is in a Name? Not an ERISA Plan”), a court in Texas construed a similar exemption for “voluntary insurance arrangements,” and found it unavailable.

What Is In A Name? Not An ERISA Plan

A recent decision by an Ohio federal court illustrates an important distinction between two regulatory exemptions from ERISA’s definition of an “employee welfare benefit plan.”

Federal Court Agrees With Spencer Fane: Former Employees of Enron Subsidiary Lack Standing to Sue

Spencer Fane’s ERISA Litigation Group secured a major victory last month in a case arising from the Enron bankruptcy. The dispute followed the sale of an Enron subsidiary, Northern Natural Gas (“NNG”). As a consequence of the sale, NNG withdrew from Enron’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (“VEBA”) and established its own welfare benefit plan, which was funded by a VEBA established by NNG’s ultimate purchaser, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. (“MEC”).

THE FIDUCIARY CORNER: The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth

When ERISA fiduciaries speak, they must recognize that what they say, and how they say it, will be held to a higher standard than ordinary speech. This is because ERISA imposes special rules governing the manner in which information about benefits is communicated. Although courts disagree about the scope of this duty of disclosure, it is well established that communications must give participants information that is both accurate and sufficiently detailed to allow them to make informed decisions.

1 34 35 36 37 Showing 351-360 of 369 results View All