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Bloomberg Quotes Joanne Youn on Church Pension Cases
Caplin & Drysdale

Bloomberg Quotes Joanne Youn on Church Pension Cases

Date: 3/27/2017

The pension benefits of more than 300,000 hospital workers will be at stake when the U.S. Supreme Court convenes on March 27, and it's anybody's guess what the justices will want to discuss.

The court will hear arguments in three cases by hospital workers who claim their pension plans are severely underfunded because the hospitals have wrongly claimed a religious exemption from federal pension law. More than three dozen class actions against hospitals with “church plans” have been filed in the past four years, with the workers scoring big appellate victories in cases against Advocate Health Care Network, Saint Peter's Healthcare System and Dignity Health.

. . .

Agency Deference

Another looming issue is how much deference should be paid to the federal agencies in charge of pension oversight—particularly the Internal Revenue Service.

With “more than three decades of reliance on administrative rulings on the line,” the Supreme Court will have to address the deference question “head-on,” Joanne C. Youn, an ERISA attorney and member of Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA in an email.  Ms. Youn leads the Employee Benefits Group at the firm.

“Given the stakes, the Court will presumably want to provide very clear guidance to employers who have relied on IRS private letter rulings to bless their church plan status and to the lower courts,” Youn said. This makes a 4-4 split ruling “unlikely,” she said.

For the full article, please visit Bloomberg BNA's website (subscription required).

Excerpt taken from the article "Devil in the Details as Justices Mull Church Pension Cases" by Jacklyn Wille for Bloomberg BNA.

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