More Good News for Class Actions in ERISA Benefit Recovery Cases
I've talked before about the way in which ERISA facilitates class actions being brought against ERISA plans and their fiduciaries. In March of last year I posted a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, In Re: Household International Tax Reduction Plan, 441 F.3d 500 (th Cir. 2006), which held that unnamed members of a class are not required to exhaust prelitigation appeal remedies under ERISA. That was an important ruling because the opposite holding, that all class members need to exhaust their prelitigation remedies, would effectively have gutted the ability to bring ERISA class actions involving denied benefit claims at all. The most recent news on this front is that Flinders v. Workforce Stabilization Plan of Phillips Petroleum, ____ F.3d _____, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 15879 (10th Cir. 2007), a case from the Tenth Circuit earlier this month I blogged about here, affirms that the rule outlined in Household International Tax Reduction Plan regarding the ability of a class representative who has exhausted his prelitigation appeal remedies to represent those who have not, is valid for the Tenth Circuit as well as the Seventh Circuit. That's a crucial aspect of the Flinders decision.