Michael T. Graham

Latest Articles

On December 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to Advocate Health Care, et al. v. Stapleton, Maria, et al., St. Peter’s Healthcare, et al. v. Kaplan, Laurence and Dignity Health, et al. v. Rollins, Starla, all of which previously requested the Court review their arguments on whether the church plan exemption available under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), applies…
Since 2014, large church-controlled health systems that offer defined benefit pension plans have seen lawsuits filed as to whether such plans are eligible to qualify for the ERISA church-plan exemption, which governs those arrangements. When a retirement plan meets the ERISA church-plan exemption, it is exempt from the typical funding and vesting requirements of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code as well as from the ERISA reporting and disclosure requirements. As the church-plan litigation moves…
On September 4, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in Fontaine v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), does not preempt an Illinois state insurance regulation that prohibits discretionary authority clauses in health and disability plan insurance policies. The Seventh Circuit upheld the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which decided that the Illinois…
As previously reported, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California’s Sick Leave Law) took full effect on July 1, 2015, although some provisions were effective as of January 1, 2015. The new law generally requires most employers to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave. This On the Subject discussed requirements employers must meet, including Assembly Bill 304, which amends California’s Sick Leave Law to make immediate changes.  Read the full article.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a number of significant ERISA cases.  In its 2013-14 term, the Supreme Court decided two ERISA-based appeals – Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer and Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Acc. Ins. Co.  In the current 2014-15 term, the Supreme Court already issued one ERISA decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, and will issue another ERISA decision soon in Tibble v. Edison Int’l.  Although these four cases have…
On March 5, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the finding of a prior Sixth Circuit panel that allowed successful plaintiffs to recover additional equitable relief in the form of disgorgement of profits under a return-on-equity analysis in addition to the recovery of the denied benefits. This decision realigns the Sixth Circuit with the other circuits by requiring that plaintiffs prove a separate injury in order to receive additional equitable…
M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, a recent unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, is a game changer. By expressly repudiating the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s 1983 Yard-Man decision and the many decisions following it, the Supreme Court rejected three decades of Sixth Circuit law inferring that retiree health benefits are vested for retirees’ lives, and provided new clarity in interpretation of retiree medical benefits under collective…
On September 10, 2014, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California’s sick leave law) became law.  The new law requires most employers to allow employees to accrue up to three days of paid sick leave per year based on an accrual of at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  California’s sick leave law does provide for various accrual caps, in deference to employers that already have a…
On September 16, 2014, the United States Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 2511, which would amend Section 4062(e) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), to clarify the definition of substantial cessation of operations.  ERISA Section 4062(e) enables the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to require that employers financially guarantee pension obligations based on a plan’s underfunded termination liability when an employer that maintains a pension plan shuts down operations at…