Not all benefits claims are created equal. At least, not from a risk management perspective. Benefits claims that reach issues applicable to a broad class of participants have the potential to exponentially increase liabilities.
Kifafi v. Hilton illustrates this risk. A recent court order quantified the cost of a judgment that Hilton Hotels and its retirement plan (“Hilton”) violated ERISA’s vesting and anti-backloading requirements. To date, Hilton has paid $33.3 million to more than 11,000 class members, approximately $22 million to Plaintiffs’ counsel, and provided notice of increased benefits to another approximately 5,600 participants.
A single individual’s claim for benefits was the genesis of this multi-million dollar award.