Synergy Blog

From Roger Baron: ERISA plan must pay penalties for failure to provide historical documents

Reprinted with Permission from Roger Baron

In Hartman v. Dana Holding Corp., (N.Dis.IN, 10/21/13) # 1:12-CV-445, the court assessed penalties of $4,470  against an ERISA plan for refusing to provide historical documents requested by the plaintiff.  The applicable documents for this dispute related to the deceased’s “survivor annuity” and were in effect 1979.  The ERISA plan refused to comply with plaintiff’s request on the basis that part of the language of 29 U.S.C. 1024(b)(4) encompasses “latest updated summary, summary plan description, and the latest annual report.” But, this court rejected this argument stating,

But § 1024(b)(4) also requires that a plan administrator furnish “other instruments under which the plan was established or operated.”

And also stating,

Here, the 1979 Plan document and SPD are critical to Mrs. Hartman’s understanding of her rights and eligibility. These documents control not only whether the Plan required spousal consent to elect against a survivor annuity in 1979, but also what fiduciary duties the Plan owed to Mr. Hartman before he made his election.

This decision cites and relies upon other federal decisions reported in the 7th and 2nd Circuits.


ClickHERE for a copy of the opinion


I wanted to pass my highest recommendation to Synergy who we routinely get involved in cases when Medicare issues come up, especially when dealing with Medicare Set Asides. Synergy went beyond the call of duty in a recent case that was settled and dealt one-on-one with our clients and their family. They spent time on the phone with them to be sure they got all their questions answered and did a fantastic job dealing with Medicare.

J. Daniel Clark
Clark Martino, P.A.

Synergy’s team makes it easy to deal with all of the issues we hate at the end of the case. Dealing with Medicare, ERISA liens, keeping eligibility intact for Medicaid and complicated planning for the client’s recovery. The experts we work with regularly at Synergy do a great job of making sure I am protected as are my clients.

J. Clancey Bounds
Bounds Law Group

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