Oral argument: Jan. 20, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (July 24, 2008)
ERISA, PENSIONS, JUDICIAL REVIEW, ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS
Courts generally give deference to discretionary decisions made by ERISA pension plan administrators. This case will test the limits of that deference and will decide if a court is obligated to defer to a plan administrator’s proposed remedy for an ERISA violation, when the cause of the violation itself was the administrator’s prior interpretation. Petitioners and their amici argue that allowing judges to involve themselves in ERISA pension plan determinations without deferring to decisions made by the plan administrator will increase the costs and uncertainty of maintaining pension plans. Respondents and their amici, on the other hand, argue that deferring repeatedly to a plan administrator will increase costs through more and prolonged litigation, and will be unfair to plan participants who justifiably rely on promised benefits to plan for retirement.