Senior Public Relations Manager
Senior Public Relations Manager
MEDIA ADVISORY - ERISA ATTORNEYS AVAILABLE TO COMMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING IN CIGNA V. AMARAMay 16, 2011
New York—Noted Pillsbury ERISA attorneys Susan Serota and Fred Brodie are available to comment about the full ramifications of today's Supreme Court ruling in CIGNA v. Amara which reviewed the federal mandate that employers who offer their workers employment benefits must lay out the terms of the benefit plan in a detailed plan document, but also provide workers with a summary plan description.
The key question at hand centered on whether a worker is automatically entitled to more generous benefits that may have been erroneously included in the summary, or only if workers can demonstrate that they were likely harmed between the discrepancy of what was listed in the actual plan versus the plan summary. The Court held that (i) the relief provided under ERISA does not authorize a court to change the terms of a plan, (ii) an ERISA Summary Plan Description (SPD) is not part of the plan's terms, (iii) ERISA distinguishes between the roles of a plan sponsor and a plan administrator as to which "hat" a company may be wearing when it communicates with participants and (iv) the purpose of an SPD is to provide clear, simple communication. The Court went on to discuss the "appropriate equitable relief" that may be available under ERISA sec. 502(a)(3) and vacated and remanded the lower court's decision."
Recently named 2011 Best Lawyer of the Year for Employee Benefits in New York by Best Lawyers in America, Susan Serota leads Pillsbury's Executive Compensation & Benefits practice and is a member of the firm's ERISA Litigation team. She has experience in all areas of pensions, employee benefits, executive compensation and stock options. She has significant experience in the compensation of senior executives, fiduciary matters relating to ERISA and other plans, international benefits, employee benefit aspects of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, welfare plans, ERISA fiduciary litigation and securities law matters. She is also an advisor to both foreign and domestic governmental entities, regarding pensions, deferred compensation and privatizing certain pension/social security/invalidity payment systems. Past chair of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation, the nation's largest organization of tax lawyers, Serota consistently receives the highest tier ranking in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers, Legal 500, Global Counsel 3000 and Best Lawyers in America.
New York litigator Fred Brodie represents both plaintiffs and defendants in lawsuits concerning commercial matters, fiduciary issues, ERISA, employment and employee benefits disputes, contractual disputes, banking, bankruptcy and creditors' rights, and state and federal appeals. Significant representations include: a Fortune 500 company sued in a class action for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with its 401(k) plan; a major defense company sued in a class action for retiree medical benefits; the Executor of the Estate of Andy Warhol in appeals of an award to the Estate's former counsel; a corporation sued for breach of contract and fraud by more than 30 former executives in connection with the payment of "change of control" benefits; a corporation sued for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA based on its sale of a subsidiary having an Employee Stock Ownership Plan among others.