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AARP Foundation Legal Advocacy

Docket: Employee Benefits


Case Name: Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton consolidated with Saint Peter's Healthcare System v. Kaplan and Dignity Health v. Rollins

Court: U.S. Supreme Court   Docket: 16-74, 16-86, 16-258

Read AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF) and Article

Case Result: In an 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) exempts from its protections defined-benefit pension plans maintained not only by churches but also by organizations controlled by or affiliated with churches, even if the plans were not initially established by churches. We argued that Congress did not intend for ERISA's "church plan" exemption to reach organizations, such as multi-billion-dollar hospital chains, that provide commercially profitable secular services that were not initially provided by employees of a church. 

Case Name: Amara v. CIGNA Corp.

Court: U.S. Ct. App. 2nd Cir.   Docket: 13-447

Read Summary and AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Case Result: The Second Circuit affirmed that because of Cigna's intentional misrepresentation, it had to fix its pension plan to ensure that plan participants received both the amount of their original benefits plus any additional benefits they earned after the plan was changed to a cash balance plan. 

Case Name: Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas

Court: U.S. Ct. App. 5th Cir.   Docket: 16-20174

Read AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Case Issue: Should the court grant a petition for rehearing en banc to reverse a 26-year-old case on the issue of whether plan administrators should automatically be accorded discretionary review when they make factual determinations?

Case Name: Byrne v. State of Montana

Court: Montana 1st Judicial Dist.   Docket: ADV-2013-738

Read Summary

Case Result: The State is permanently enjoined from cutting teachers guaranteed annual pension benefits. Court also held that teachers are contractually entitled to a 1.5% increase annually.

Case Name: Chamber of Commerce v. DOL and Perez

Court: U.S. Dist. Ct. ND Tex.  Docket: 16-1476, 16-1530, 16-1537 consolidated

Read Summary and AARP's Memorandum (PDF)

Case Result: The decision rejected all of the challenges to the Department of Labor's conflict of interest regulation, thereby upholding the rule.

Case Name: City of Detroit, Debtor in Possession (In re)

Court: U.S. Ct. App. 6th Cir. Docket: 14-1208

Read Summary and AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Case Result: Detroit bankruptcy settlement of the pensioners' claims provided for elimination of cost of living adjustments and reduction of benefits.

Case Name: Cotillion v. United Refining Co.

Court: U.S. Ct. App. 3d Cir.    Docket: 13-4633 & 13-4743

Read Summary and AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Case Result:  Company violated ERISA's anti-cutback rule, which prohibits pension plan amendments that reduce workers' accrued benefits, and must pay employees what it promised -- unreduced pension benefits.

Case Name: Feeko v. Pfizer & Wyeth Special Transaction Severance Plan

Court: U.S. Ct. App. 3d Cir.    Docket: 14-4752

Read Summary and AARP's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Case Result: A divided Third Circuit held that former Pfizer workers transferred to a credit union in connection with Pfizer's acquisition of another pharmaceutical company are not entitled to severance benefit and declined to decide whether unnamed plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies in order to be part of a class action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

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Legal Cases

Find cases in which AFL has advocated in courts nationwide for the rights of older persons, and filed AARP’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that help courts decide precedent-setting cases. The cases within the drop-down categories below are in alphabetical order for ease of searching.

Strengthening Law and Policy through
Legal Advocacy

Our legal advocacy initiatives  - conducted by AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) - reflect nearly 20 years of work in federal and state courts across the country. Through our efforts, we support the Foundation’s four impact areas: Tackling Senior Hunger, Paving the Way to Stable Income, assuring the adequacy and availability of Safe and Afffordable Housing and Reconnecting People to Families and Communities, and ensure that those 50 and older have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.