Greg Ossi spoke at the 30th Annual Energy & Mineral Law Institute event on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. Greg's speech was titled, "Spiraling Costs and Crashing Markets – Who Will Be Left Holding the (Empty) Bag for Depleted Pensions and Unfunded Health Care Liabilities?" and discussed the legal landscape facing plan sponsors or trustees in meeting pension and benefit obligations. Greg reviewed recent judicial decisions that touch on benefit “hot button” issues including:
- Who is a fiduciary subject to a duty of loyalty to plan participants in matters involving investments and the provision of benefits?
- What is the state of the law concerning the use of an employer's stock to fund pension plans?
- What sorts of actions may an employer (i.e., plan sponsor) take without triggering fiduciary obligations, even though they adversely impact plan participants?
- What “cost containment” initiatives may be allowable under the Coal Act?
- Who has standing to bring an action against a plan sponsor or administrator?
- What kinds of remedies are available to a participant who alleges harm resulting from the actions (or failure to act) of a fiduciary?
- What are recent trends in litigation concerning bargaining and modification to retiree health benefits?