On Thursday, October 25th, NELA joined AARP in filing an amicus brief in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen, an ERISA case currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. While the underlying cause of action in this case was a tort claim, an adverse ruling in this case could have profound consequences for any employees who currently participate in employer-sponsored benefit plans. The brief was drafted by Mary Ellen Signorille of AARP, with the assistance of NELA ERISA experts Jeffrey Lewis (Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson P.C.) and Ronald Dean (Ronald Dean, A Law Corporation).
The amicus brief seeks to refute the claim made by the Petitioner and their amici in this case that reimbursement rights are essential to preserving the stability of employer-sponsored benefit plans. AARP’s brief argues persuasively that all available data undermines the employers’ claims about the importance of reimbursement to the financial integrity of benefit plans. Moreover, the brief points out that employees would be deterred from pursuing claims against third parties if they knew that not only would they not get to keep any portion of their recovery, but also that they would have to pay additional money to their employer for the privilege of vindicating their rights. This would result in employers receiving less in reimbursement funds than if their reimbursement power was subject to reasonable, equitable limitations.