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ERISA – Arbitration

By: Derek Hawkins//November 7, 2021//

ERISA – Arbitration

By: Derek Hawkins//November 7, 2021//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: James Smith, et al., v. Board of Directors of Triad Manufacturing, Inc., et al.,

Case No.: 20-2708

Officials: KANNE, BRENNAN, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges.

Focus: ERISA – Arbitration

In this complex ERISA case, James Smith sued fiduciaries of the retirement plan offered by his former employer, Triad Manufacturing, Inc., for alleged financial misconduct. Add in a class action, an arbitration provision, and issues of notice and consent to plan amendments, and this lawsuit gets even more complicated.

The correct resolution here is straightforward, though. The ERISA provisions Smith invokes have individual and plan-wide effect. But the arbitration provision in Triad’s defined contribution retirement plan precludes relief that “has the purpose or effect of providing additional benefits or monetary or other relief to any Eligible Employee, Participant or Beneficiary other than the Claimant.” Because that provision prohibits relief that ERISA expressly permits, we affirm the district court’s denial of Triad’s motion to compel arbitration or, in the alternative, to dismiss.


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Derek A Hawkins is Corporate Counsel, at Salesforce.


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