A couple of notes on cases today. Before the holidays, I posted about the First Circuit’s decision in Gillis, concerning an administrator’s discretion in calculating possible pension payments and how the discretionary authority granted to the administrator drove the conclusion that a challenge to the pension calculations would not be upheld in the courts. Suzanne Wynn, who writes on pension plan issues at her Pension Protection Act blog, has this very detailed analysis now of the issues concerning cash balance conversions that were at play in Gillis, for those of you looking for more information on that aspect of the case.

In addition, in the little window of time between the first holiday weekend of Christmas and the second holiday weekend of the New Year, Judge Woodlock of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a very comprehensive and detailed opinion in the case of Island View Residential Treatment Center, Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which basically reads as a mini-treatise on a number of interesting issues arising in ERISA litigation. In the opinion, the judge covers, among other topics: standing to bring an ERISA claim; the application of federal common law to ERISA disputes; the statute of limitations applicable to ERISA disputes; exhaustion of administrative remedies; and the standard of review. Of particular note with regard to the standard of review, the judge presents the current status of the law in the First Circuit concerning so-called structural conflict of interests, which I have discussed many times on this blog, most recently in my post yesterday, and identifies the internal debate in the circuit over whether the law on that issue should be revised, a bone of contention in the circuit that I also noted before, in my post yesterday. Judge Woodlock comments that it appears the First Circuit may be waiting for possible guidance from the Supreme Court in the case of MetLife v. Gillis, discussed in yesterday’s post, before venturing into that issue. And finally with regard to the Island View case, I think, in a blogger’s version of professional courtesy, I would be remiss if I did not mention that one of the parties to the case was represented by fellow law blogger Brian King out of Utah, who blogs on ERISA issues – from what is probably a decidedly more participant oriented perspective than my own – at his excellent ERISA Law Blog.