On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Stapleton et al., 581 U.S. ___ (2017), answered whether a church must have originally established an employee benefit plan for it to qualify as an exempted “church plan” under ERISA, to which the Supreme Court answered, no. The Supreme Court held that “a plan maintained by a ‘principal purpose organization’ qualifies as a ‘church plan,’ regardless of who established it.”
With the recent election, the fate of the ACA is uncertain. However, we can be fairly certain that, whatever the changes may be, it is unlikely that we will return to life as it was prior to the enactment of the ACA on March 23, 2010. What the “new” ACA will look like, we can’t know, so it is important to continue to be compliant with the laws and regulations as they are currently, unless and until those laws and regulations change.
We have previously discussed The Importance of the Official Plan Document including the uncertainty of whether one document could perform double duty as “the Plan document” and the summary plan description (“SPD”). While it is still “not a sure bet” as to how the U.S. Supreme Court would rule, a recent ruling has held that the SPD can, in fact, be the governing plan document.
On May 18, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in Tibble, et al. v. Edison International et al, unanimously held that there is a continuing duty under ERISA for fiduciaries to monitor and remove imprudent investments. With this ruling, the Supreme Court vacated a 9th Circuit case which had held that, under ERISA’s 6-year statute of limitations, a claim alleging a breach of fiduciary duty concerning a plan investment initially selected outside the 6-year statutory period could only be brought if there was a change in circumstances which would trigger a fiduciary to re-examine the fund’s inclusion in the plan. The Supreme Court ruling also – in effect – reversed similar prior rulings in the 4th and 11th Circuits. Essentially, for all intents and purposes going forward, the Supreme Court ruling in Tibble provides for a rolling 6-year fiduciary liability window for a violation of the continuing duty to monitor investments.