For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in CNH Industrial v. Reese asking the court to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s decision that required life-time vesting of retiree health benefits under a collective bargaining agreement that did not stipulate the duration of the benefit.
ERIC, the only national trade association advocating exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the state, federal, and local levels, frequently participates as amicus curiae in cases that have the potential for far-reaching effects on employee benefit plan design or administration. If the Sixth Circuit’s decision is allowed to stand, health insurance and retiree health benefits for millions of workers could be in jeopardy, due to billions of dollars in unanticipated costs to employers.
ERIC’s brief lays out two reasons the Court should review the case:
- The Sixth Circuit’s decision violates the Supreme Court standard set by the M&G Polymers v Tackett case regarding how the duration of a retiree health benefit should be interpreted, and
- The Sixth Circuit’s decision was reached by applying a test which the Supreme Court had affirmatively thrown out in Tackett.
ERIC argues that employers face uncertainty because the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly and conflictingly ruled both in favor and against cases applying either the Tackett decision or the standards rejected in Tackett, and that the Supreme Court should immediately reverse the Sixth Circuit’s decision in CNH v. Reese, as well as enforce Tackett’s clear command that collective bargaining agreements be read according to “ordinary principles of contract law.”
“Courts must rule consistently and based on the law. In this case, the collective bargaining agreements never promised that retiree healthcare benefits would be provided for life. Under Tackett, the case should have been straightforward with the company’s obligation to provide retiree healthcare benefits lasting until the contract expired,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO, ERIC.
In July 2014, ERIC filed an amicus brief the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in M&G Polymers v. Tackett. In October 2015, K. Winn Allen from Kirkland & Ellis argued on behalf of ERIC in M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et al. v. Hobert Freel Tackett et al. before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit while the case was on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Click here to read ERIC’s amicus brief in CNH v. Reese.