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Shock! 9th Circuit rules for employers in ERISA case

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has long been seen as the most liberal federal appeals court—and very employee-friendly. Could that slowly be changing?

The court sided with employers in this recent Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) case.

Recent case: Bruce Anderson worked as a mechanic for most of his life until he injured his knee in a shop accident. Later, he was diagnosed with arthritis and claimed he couldn’t work.

He filed a claim for disability retirement from the Teamsters Union. Plan administrators concluded that Anderson’s disability started later than he claimed, which considerably cut his monthly pay.

He appealed, alleging a conflict of interest, since employers funded the plan and employer representatives participated in decisions. The court rejected the claim, reasoning that employee representatives helped make the decision, too. (Anderson v. Suburban Teamsters, No. 07-15532, 9th Cir., 2009)

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