High Court Boosts Plan Administrators' ERISA Sway

By Samuel Howard (April 21, 2010, 6:53 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has augmented the authority of plan administrators over retirement benefit disputes, holding that administrators are entitled to undiminished deference from the courts even after their previous interpretations have been found to violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The 5-3 decision in Conkright v. Frommert, carried by the conservative members of the court, reinforces the power of plan administrators after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the district court is not obligated to defer to the administrator's second interpretation of a Xerox Corp. plan because the administrator previously espoused an "arbitrary and...

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