ERISA Claim Delays Could Kill Your Claim
We have seen many people who would have had great ERISA cases, but they waited too late to do something about them. Maybe they were sick or ill. Or perhaps they were taking care of aging parents or a sick child. Or maybe they could not find a lawyer to help them and they just gave up. Maybe there was just not enough money to hire a lawyer. Or maybe they timely hired a lawyer who didn’t act quickly enough. There are very few exceptions for getting past ERISA’s time bar. A recent case out of the Third Circuit highlights that for us.
In Moyer v. Trustees of Boilermaker-Blacksmith Nat’l Pension Tr., No. 3:19-CV-01270, 2020 WL 2512991 (M.D. Pa. May 15, 2020) the court had to decide whether Mr. Moyer still had time to file suit against the pension plan to correct his pension benefit. Mr. Moyer retired in 2006. He chose a pension benefit that paid 75% of the full benefit to him for his lifetime, and then 25% of the benefit to his wife for her lifetime should she survive him. Unfortunately, Mr. Moyer and his wife divorced in 2010 after the benefit had been paid for several years.
Mr. Moyer and his soon to be ex-wife agreed as part of the divorce settlement that she would relinquish any claim to his pension benefit. After the divorce was final, Mr. Moyer contacted the Pension Trust to convert his 75% benefit to a 100% benefit. The pension trust refused to change it. He eventually hired a lawyer who attempted to have the Pension Trust change the benefit during 2013 and 2014. He was not successful.
About five years later, Mr. Moyer filed his lawsuit. The Pension Trust sought to have the case dismissed and the court granted its motion. His ERISA claims were time-barred under either the two-year contractual limitation period contained in the plan or the state four-year statute of limitations for contract claims.