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Darkness at Noon: Judicial Interpretation May Have Made Things Worse for Benefit Plan Participants Under ERISA than had the Statute Never Been Enacted

St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 23, p. 101, 2011

U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 203

24 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2010 Last revised: 11 Apr 2011

Andrew Stumpff Morrison

University of Michigan Law School; University of Alabama Law School

Date Written: April 4, 2010

Abstract

The author argues that judicial decisions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 have been so constrictive and anti-employee, over such a long time, that it can now be said that participants in employer-sponsored pension and health insurance plans would have been better off, on balance, if the statute had never been enacted. Given that the Act’s stated purpose was to protect benefit plan participants, this is a surprising conclusion to have to reach. Nonetheless the argument is strong, and is validated in part by the thousands of cases that have accumulated in which plan participants/plaintiffs have been forced to argue ERISA does not apply to their claims, as a precondition to salvaging those claims.

Keywords: ERISA, Employee Benefits, Plans, Pension, Retirement, Health Insurance, Jurisprudence, Firestone

JEL Classification: I18, J26, J32, J38, K39

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Andrew Stumpff, Darkness at Noon: Judicial Interpretation May Have Made Things Worse for Benefit Plan Participants Under ERISA than had the Statute Never Been Enacted (April 4, 2010). St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 23, p. 101, 2011; U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 203. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1624384

Andrew Stumpff Morrison (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

University of Alabama Law School

101 Paul W. Bryant Dr.
Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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