With assistance from Kristi Gauthier, Ed Hammond, Peter Domas and Bishop Bartoni, Kevin Hendrick and Nicole Tersigni successfully defended an insurance priority dispute, resulting in an extremely favorable judgment for firm client, United States Steel Corporation’s ERISA-governed Retiree Benefits Plan. U. S. Steel Retirement Plan was joined as a third-party defendant in a pending dispute by a No-Fault Automobile Insurance carrier, which had been sued by a healthcare service provider for unpaid patient attendant care fees. The No-Fault Carrier claimed that the obligation to pay for these services under Michigan No-Fault law fell to U. S. Steel Retirement Plan, which covered the patient (who was a former U. S. Steel employee). Ed, Bishop, Kristi and Peter lent their expertise to Kevin and Nicole in interpreting alleged conflicting insurance priority provisions and explanations of benefits. Kevin and Nicole crafted a legal argument that ultimately led to summary disposition in favor of U.S. Steel Plan, and against the No-Fault carrier, saving U.S. Steel Plan from payment of the healthcare fees, and also reimbursing U.S. Steel Plan for benefits it had earlier paid by mistake, out of priority. As the No-Fault carrier had rejected the Case Evaluation award prior to the filing of cross motions for summary disposition, it also appears that attorney fees are recoverable for our client. Kristi and Ed on Employee Benefit law, Bishop on Michigan No-Fault law, and Pete on Health Care issues, proved to be unbeatable resources.
Employee Benefit Plan Design & Plan Correction Programs
Clark Hill’s Employee Benefits team advises businesses, governmental entities, and individual clients on the full range of plan design and administration issues relating to qualified and nonqualified employee benefit plans. Our experience is broad and deep, and includes the drafting and implementation of plans; preparation of Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) filings; and assistance with IRS, Department of Labor, and PBGC plan audits. We also assist clients using various plan correction program compliance.
Our attorneys are well-versed in all types of tax-qualified plans, including profit sharing, defined benefit, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, money purchase, cash balance, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), multiemployer and multiple employer plans, and state and local government pension plans. We frequently assist sponsors of pooled securities, real estate, and venture capital investments in complying with ERISA when they have pension fund investors.
Moreover, our benefits team represents financial institutions in the design and maintenance of “master” retirement plans and individual retirement account (IRA) programs. We have successfully resolved significant IRS and Department of Labor investigations and audits of alleged violations of ERISA and the Code.
Also, our attorneys advise on welfare and fringe benefit plans, including cafeteria plans, COBRA compliance, flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement accounts (HRA), the Medicare secondary rules and other coordination of benefits issues, qualified medical child support orders, claims procedures, tax and compliance issues associated with self-insured medical plans, severance plans, voluntary employees' beneficiary association (VEBA) plans, group health plans, disability plans, wellness plans, and on-site medical clinics. We have advised clients on all aspects of group health plan compliance, including the Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act.
Notably, our team has advised many companies on the legal requirements applicable to retiree medical and welfare benefits. We have also helped design and implement programs intended to reduce future retiree medical costs and liability and expense under FAS 106.
We routinely review agreements with employee benefit plan providers and strive to ensure that our client’s interests are protected in such agreements.