Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Alvin Lurie recently prepared a critique of the Breyer and Scalia opinions in U.S. Supreme Court ERISA case of Cigna Corp. v. Amara. This piece was initially posted as a “guest article” on BenefitsLink. Here is the link and a snippet:
The CIGNA decision (CIGNA Corp. v. Amara et al., 2011 U.S. LEXIS 3540, 179 L.Ed.2d 843), handed down by the Supreme Court on May 16, did not have the trappings of a cause celebre — just a holding under ERISA that misstatements in the summary plan description of a pension plan did not provide the grounds for a recovery at law. The holding of the Court was unanimous, all eight justices participating in the decision agreeing on the SPD issue. (The 6–2 division of the Court noted in the title of this article did not pertain to the SPD issue, but rather to a minority view of the grounds on which the decision should — or, more accurately should not — be rested.) The SPD holding in itself may be surprising to some, perhaps, albeit not earth-shaking. But the 6–2 split of the majority and concurring opinions will cast a long shadow, and might even foretell a breakdown in the exquisitely detailed and compartmentalized provision of civil remedies available for the enforcement of ERISA's "reticulated" provisions (to recall the Supreme Court's eloquent term for ERISA on one of its first encounters with the statute in the leading Nachman case). Therein lies the real interest in and importance of the case.
Check out the whole piece. Very interesting.