Top Hat Plans

Curious about what a top hat plan is? I didn't think so. But if you ever need a handy one paragraph definition and description, Judge Saylor, writing in the case I discussed yesterday, provides one:

A" top hat" employee benefit plan is one that is unfunded and "maintained by an employer primarily for the purpose of providing deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees." Cogan v. Phoenix Life Ins. Co., 310 F.3d 238,242 (1st Cir. 2002) (citing 29 U.S.C. 1101(a)(l)). . . . [W]hile a " top hat" plan is exempt from certain ERISA requirements, it is not exempt from ERISA's reporting, disclosure, administration, or enforcement provisions, and any state law concerning such plans are preempted.

As an inveterate brief writer (as pretty much anyone who practices in ERISA and insurance coverage has to be, given how often such cases are decided on summary judgment motions), I make it a point to collect these kind of general descriptive paragraphs for future use. Later, they can be inserted into a brief as a nice, handy introduction to the particular subject, before branching off from that descriptive paragraph into the specifics of the exact case at hand.