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From Roger Baron: ERISA plan must pay penalties for failure to provide historical documents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10/21/13) # 1:12-CV-445, the court assessed penalties of $4,470  against an ERISA plan for refusing to provide historical documents requested by the plaintiff.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

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