Wednesday, July 27, 2016

9th Circuit: Healthcare System's Pension Plan Is Not An Exempt "Church Plan"

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday joined the 3rd and 7th Circuits in interpreting ERISA to cover plans of a number of religiously-affiliated health care systems that previously operated their pension plans on the assumption that they are exempt "church plans."  In Rollins v. Dignity Health, (9th Cir., July 26, 2016), the court concluded that under the language of ERISA, a pension plan is exempt as a church plan only if it was originally established by a church or convention of churches.  The class action complaint filed in 2013 alleges that as of that date Dignity Health's pension plan was underfunded by more than $1.2 billion.