Lee v. ING Groep, No. 14-15848 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After plaintiff's long term disability benefits were terminated, plaintiff filed suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132(c)(1), against his former employer, ING, seeking statutory penalties against ING for failing to timely produce documents he had requested. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiff and imposed a penalty of $27,475. The court affirmed the district court's decision to impose a penalty on ING North America for its failure to timely produce the Plan Document; the court reversed the district court’s decision to impose a penalty based on ING North America’s failure to timely produce the emails at issue; the court joined its sister circuits and held that penalties under 29 U.S.C. 1132(c)(1) can only be assessed against “plan administrators” for failing to produce documents that they are required to produce as plan administrators; and 29 C.F.R. 2560.503-1(h)(2)(iii) does not impose any requirements on plan administrators, and so cannot form the basis for a penalty under 29 U.S.C. 1132(c)(1). Accordingly, the court vacated the penalty award and remanded to the district court to assess a penalty based solely on the failure to timely produce the Plan Document.