ERISA-Second Circuit Rules That District Court Fashioned An Adequate Equitable Remedy For The Calculation Of Benefits From Xerox Corporation’s Pension Plan

In Frommert v. Conkright, Docket Nos. 17-114-cv(L), 17-738-cv(CON) (2nd Cir. 2019), the principal issue is whether the district court  awarded an adequate equitable remedy for violations of ERISA related to Xerox Corporation’s pension plan (the “Plan”).

The plaintiffs-appellants (“Plaintiffs”) are Xerox employees who left the company in the 1980’s, received lump-sum distributions of retirement benefits they had earned up to that point, and were later rehired. The dispute giving rise to this case concerns how to account for the Plaintiffs’ past distributions when calculating their current benefits—that is, how to avoid paying the Plaintiffs the same benefits twice. The defendants-appellees are Xerox, the Plan, and individually named retirement plan administrators (individually and collectively, the “Plan Administrator”). In the most recent decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) in this case, the Court determined that the Plan Administrator’s method of calculating the Plaintiffs’ current benefits violated ERISA’s notice requirements and therefore could not be applied to the Plaintiffs’ benefits. The Court remanded the case to the district court to fashion, in its discretion, an equitable remedy providing appropriate retirement benefits to the Plaintiffs (the Court refers to these benefits as “New Benefits”)

Selecting the equitable remedy of reformation, the district court held that New Benefits should be calculated as if the Plaintiffs were newly hired on their return to Xerox.  In a separate decision and order, the district court also determined that the Plaintiffs are entitled to prejudgment interest at the federal prime rate.

The Court now affirms these decisions.

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