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Court Cases

The Pension Rights Center follows pension cases that affect the rights of retirement plan participants. We have summarized recent important decisions below. Additionally, the Center occasionally submits friend-of-the-court briefs in support of important pension cases.

Court Overturns Cash Balance Ruling

Overturning a 2003 federal district court ruling, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that IBM did not discriminate against older employees when it adopted its cash balance plan.


Former Employees Can Sue Retirement Plans

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit decided a case that preserves the right of former employees, including retirees, to sue their retirement plans even if they have already taken full distributions from the plan. The case is Harzewski v. Guidant Corporation [PDF].


Pension Plan Must Give Benefits to Surviving Spouse

An ex-spouse who files a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) with a pension plan following the death of her ex-husband is entitled to benefits. In Marker v. Northrop Grumman Space & Missions Systems Corporation Salaried Pension Plan, the U.S.


U.S. Supreme Court Says Plan Participants Can Sue For Individual Losses Resulting From Misconduct

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered its opinion in LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates on Wednesday, February 20, 2008, reversing a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.


Lump-Sum Benefits Must Include Cost-of-Living Adjustments

The U.S. Supreme Court has let a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision stand. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that when a pension plan calculates the amount of a retiree's lump-sum distribution, the plan must take into account the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) that would have been included if the pension had been paid as a lifetime monthly annuity.


Plan Rules Trump Divorce Agreement

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the administrator of a retirement plan must follow the plan’s rules when distributing a deceased worker’s benefits, unless a “qualified domestic relations order” has been filed with the plan. 


Court Rules Pensions Can Be Sought After to Pay Restitution

Pension funds can now be used to pay restitution in criminal cases, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The court held that the Victim’s Restitution Act of 1996 clears the way for victims to go after funds held in an individual’s pension account when seeking restitution in criminal cases.


Court Awards Retiree Back Payments for Wrongly-Suspended Pension Payments

A big issue for retired construction workers and others in multiemployer plans has been whether they can get payments for years that their early retirement pensions were suspended before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the suspensions were unlawful.