Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Puerto Rico Federal District Court Rules Says Catholic School Pension Plan Is Covered By ERISA

In Martinez-Gonzalez v. Catholic Schools of the Archdioceses of San Juan Pension Plan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11903 (D PR, Jan. 27, 2017), a Puerto Rico federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11904, Jan. 9, 2017) and refused to dismiss a suit claiming that the pension plan covering employees of Catholic schools in Puerto Rico does not qualify for the "church plan" exemption in ERISA. The magistrate judge ruled in part:
In light of the plain meaning of the statutory text establishing ERISA's church-plan exemption, this court should find that the better-reasoned view holds that a church plan established by a church-affiliated organization——such as the Superintendence—— [rather than by the Church itself] and maintained by such an organization is not a church plan.
Plaintiffs allege that termination of the plan was in violation of ERISA procedures. This term the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in cases raising the same legal issue. (See prior posting.)