Settle the claim, don't revise the plan

My colleague, Carl Pilger, cpilger@millermartin.com, who counsels companies and others on the design, implementation and operation of employee benefit plans at Miller & Martin PLLC, http://www.millermartin.com/, in Atlanta, notes that in settling lawsuits brought by plan participants, one should avoid establishing a pattern of revising a particular plan term or requirement in a particular manner. Doing so may allow for the argument that the plan itself has, in effect, been revised in that manner on that particular point. Instead, as I make sure to do in my own practice when litigating cases on behalf of plans and administrators, the settlement papers should make clear that the particular claim is a unique situation, and no agreement has been reached as to the particular meaning that should be given to the plan term that was the subject of the dispute. Make the settlement a one off, but not a regular event.