My post from last Friday’s ERISA decision in Amara v. CIGNA Corp. has drawn quite a bit of interest. Since my post over the holiday weekend (from vacation) was intended merely as a brief summary until this week, it has drawn sufficient attention that a few points bear further elaboration, including disclosure of my knowledge of one of the class representatives.

  • First, I know one of the named class representative as a longtime family friend. Other than being aware generally of her involvement, we haven’t discussed the case in any specifics and I didn’t discuss the decision with her either.  I don’t believe this impacts my reporting of the case but readers should be aware of that fact.
  • Second, in my discussion of the age discrimination claim, one reader has suggested that I may have oversimplified the judge’s rationale. I can’t dispute that since, after all, I’m attempting to reduce a 122 page decision to a few paragraphs.  I did not, for example, discuss whether this case suggests "that more and more courts are buying into the Easterbrook line of argument that cash balance plan conversions are generally not age discrimination" as Workplace Prof did.  As I have suggested, however, readers should review the entire decision for its analysis.  But this additional quote from Judge Kravitz bears review too:

               Finally and importantly, the Court agrees with CIGNA that what Plaintiffs see as age
    discrimination is merely the transition from one plan that was heavily age-favored to another plan that is still age-favored but less so. In the Court’s view, that transition is not age discrimination.

  • Third, in my discussion of the remedies that may be appropriate, I pointed out that the court suggests at one point that only injunctive relief may be appropriate against CIGNA (versus the plan administrator) in one of the claims.   It is hardly conclusive, however, and it may be that the court fashions a remedy that is more far-reaching on the notice and disclosure provisions.  The court left a discussion of remedies (i.e. damages) for further briefing.  There are also individual claims that need to be resolved as well.

The Pension Protection Act blog has another discussion of the case with some additional points that bear review.  And to review other original source documents, readers can go to  Attorney Stephen Bruce’s webpage on the actual lawsuit as well.   And for readers that may question whether the attorneys, like Stephen Bruce, did their job well, I’ll quote directly from the judge’s opinion:

Counsel for each side distinguished themselves throughout this case by their skillful advocacy, professionalism, and civility. The Court is grateful to each of them.

The decision has lots of little items like this to review.  The best thing about a blog like this is that readers can and should decide for themselves what it ultimately means.

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