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Plan Administrators May Face Large Penalties for Failing to Provide the Plan Document


In a recent Eastern District of Tennessee decision, the court awarded a plaintiff almost $75,000 in damages resulting from the defendant’s failure to provide the plaintiff with the Plan Document. The Board of Trustees argued that the court should excuse its failure to provide the Plan Document because it contained no terms that specifically addressed the life insurance benefit and there were no conflicting terms between the Plan Document and the Summary Plan Description (“SPD”). However, the terms of the SPD specifically stated that in the event of an inconsistency between the SPD and the Plan Document that the Plan Document would control. The court concluded that because the Plaintiff did not have access to the Plan Document she did not have an opportunity to discover any potential inconsistencies. The court also emphasized that the imposition of penalties does not depend on bad faith or prejudice.

Harris-Frye v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., No. 1:14-cv-72 (E.D. Tenn. Sept. 21, 2015)


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