Friday, February 20, 2009

Detailed Guidance on Kennedy v. DuPont

Supreme_court Albert Feuer, whose very helpful work on Kennedy v. DuPont we've used frequently (see here for the latest), is once again giving a hand to those trying to figure out how to deal with the Court's decision.  After practitioners who didn't consider themselves ERISA experts asked if he could give them some detailed guidance on how to proceed in a post-Kennedy world, he's generously answered the call with his paper, "Suggestions for the Treasury, the DOL, ERISA Plan Sponsors, Administrators, Representatives of Plan Participants and Potential Beneficiaries After  Kennedy v. Plan Administrator of DuPont Savings and Investment Plan."  The abstract:

In Kennedy v. DuPont Savings and Investment Plan (the "DuPont Plan"), 2009 U.S. LEXIS 869 (January 26, 2009), the Supreme Court appeared to proclaim a "bright-line rule" that plan documents determine plan distributions.1 However, the Court blurred the bright-line rules applicable to (1) plan entitlements, (2) the alienation of pension benefits, (3) qualified domestic relations orders, and (4) plan distributions. The basis for much of this blurring would vanish if the U. S. Treasury ("the Treasury") and the U. S. Department of Labor ("the DOL") resumed their pre-Kennedy approach to many of these issues. Suggestions to improve post-Kennedy employee benefit practices are set forth for the Treasury and the DOL, for plan sponsors, for plan administrators, and for representatives of plan participants and potential plan beneficiaries.

As one who is definitely not an ERISA expert, I can attest to the fact that the paper is a big help in making sense of the issues involved.


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