Washington D.C. partner David Levin achieved a landmark ruling for our client AEGON Companies Pension Plan in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
In Smith v. Aegon Cos. Pension Plan, --F.3d--, 2014 WL 5125633 (6th Cir. Oct. 14, 2014), the Court of Appeals held that a forum selection clause in an ERISA plan is valid and enforceable. This is the first appellate court ruling on this issue. The U.S. Secretary of Labor filed an amicus brief in the case and argued that plan forum selection clauses are contrary to ERISA. The Court of Appeals ruled that the “Secretary’s interpretation is not entitled to deference.” The court analyzed and rejected the Secretary’s interpretation. The court ruled that the enforcement of a forum selection clause is not inconsistent with the terms or policy rationales of ERISA. The Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s dismissal of the participant’s complaint based on the forum selection clause.