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Status of Church Plan Litigation

Below is a summary of current and recent church plan cases.

 

Case 

                                          .

Ruling/Status


Result


Chavies v. Catholic Health East
District Court: Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Jurisdiction: 3rd Circuit
Year filed: 2013
District court denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. The court ordered discovery on whether the sponsor there at issue, a large hospital conglomerate, could be a “church” within the meaning of ERISA and thus establish its own church plan; the court did not reach plaintiffs’ alternative arguments that the plan was not a church plan.

On January 15, 2015, the district court ordered that the case be stayed, until a decision is issued in Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System which is pending in the Third Circuit.

Overall v. Ascension Health
District Court: Eastern District of Michigan
Jurisdiction:  6th Circuit
Year filed: 2013
District court ruled that the pension plan there at issue was a church plan even though it was concededly not established by a church, but by a large hospital conglomerate; the court rejected plaintiffs’ alternative arguments that the plan did not meet various other requirements to be a church plan. Appeal to Sixth Circuit.

Case settled on September 17, 2015 for $8 million.

Rollins v. Dignity Health
District Court: Northern District of California
Jurisdiction: 9th Circuit
Year filed: 2013

District court ruled that the pension plan there at issue, sponsored by a large hospital conglomerate, was not a church plan because it was not established by a church; court did not reach plaintiffs’ alternative arguments that the plan was not a church plan.

Cert granted by the Supreme Court on Deceber 2, 2016.

Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System
District Court: District of New Jersey
Jurisdiction: 3rd Circuit
Year filed: 2013

District court ruled that the pension plan there at issue, sponsored by a large hospital conglomerate, was not a church plan because it was not established by a church; court did not reach plaintiffs’ alternative arguments that the plan was not a church plan. Saint Peters appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cert granted by the Supreme Court on Deceber 2, 2016.
Medina v. Catholic Health Initiatives
District Court: District of Colorado
Jurisdiction: 10th Circuit
Year filed: 2013

Rejecting the recommendation of a magistrate judge, who had held that only a church can establish a church plan, the district judge held that a non-church could establish a church plan if certain other requirements were met.

Judge Robert E. Blackburn issued a ruling on cross motions for summary judgment on December 8, 2015, holding that CHI Plan participants are not entitled to any ERISA protections for their pension because the CHI Plan is a church plan and “entitled to the benefit of the ERISA exemption” and dismissing the case.  Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 6, 2016.
Stapleton v. Advocate Health Care Network
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2014

District court ruled that the pension plan there at issue, sponsored by a large hospital conglomerate, was not a church plan because it was not established by a church; court did not reach plaintiffs’ alternative arguments that the plan was not a church plan.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 5, 2017 that pension plans sponsored by religiously-affiliated nonprofit organizations do not have to be "established" by churches in order to be treated as "church plans" exempt from the requirements of the federal private pension law. However, the ruling did not address whether the plans involved in the cases are "maintained" by the type of organization envisioned by Congress when it enacted the law. Lower courts will have to address this issue.
Owens v. St. Anthony Medical Center, Inc.
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2014

Various motions pending; no discovery has yet commenced.

Stayed pending decision in Advocate.
Lann v. Trinity Health Corp.
District Court: District of Maryland
Jurisidiction: 4th Circuit
Year filed:  2014

District court held that a non-church could establish a church plan if certain other requirements were met; The parties have agreed to settle the case.

Case settled in August 2016 for $75 million.

Griffith v. Providence Health & Servs
District Court: Western District of Washington
Jurisdiction: 9th Circuit
Year filed: 2014

Settlement papers filed with court, awaiting finalized approval. Case settled in October 2016 for $352 million.

Morris v. Daughters of Charity Health System
District Court: Northern District of California
Jurisdiction: 9th Circuit
Year filed: 2014

The hospital was sold during the litigation. The buyer agreed that upon closing of the sale the plan would be subject to ERISA. On February 22, 2016 a voluntary dismissal of the case was filed.

Tucker v. Baptist Health Sys.
District Court: Northern District of Alabama
Jurisdiction: 11th Circuit
Year filed: 2015

Motion for preliminary settlement approval filed 8/26/16. Settlement pending.

Carver v. Presence Health Network
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2015

No answer or motion to dismiss yet filed. Stayed pending decision in Advocate.

Kemp-Delisser v. Saint Francis Hosp. & Med. Ctr.
District Court: District of Connecticut
Jurisdiction: 2nd Circuit
Year filed: 2015

Complaint filed July 21, 2015 in the District Court of Connecticut. Case settled in November 2016 for $107 million.

Boden v. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Inc.
District Court: Eastern District of Kentucky
Jurisdiction: 6th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed March 17, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Lupp v. Mercy Health, et al.
District Court: Southern District of Ohio
Jurisdiction: 6th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed March 30, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Beiermann v. Sisters of St. Mary Health Care Corporation, et al
District Court: Eastern District of Missouri
Jurisdiction: 8th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 4, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. No responsive pleading yet filed. Voluntarily dismissed on May 2, 2016.
Feather v. Sisters of St. Mary Health Care Corporation, et al
District Court: Southern District of Illinois,
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 8, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Hodges v. Bon Secours Health Sys., Inc.,
District Court:  District of Maryland
Jurisdiction: 4th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 11, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. No responsive pleading yet filed.
Curtis v. Wheaton Franciscan Servs., Inc.,
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 11, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Miller v. Bon Secours Health Sys., Inc.,
District Court:  District of Maryland
Jurisdiction: 4th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 18, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Nicholson v. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health Systems, Inc.
District Court: Middle District of Louisiana.
Jurisdiction: 11th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 21, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Jewett v. Franciscan Alliance, et al.
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed April 22, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. No responsive pleading yet filed.  
Sheedy v. Adventist Health Sys. Sunbelt Healthcare Corp., et al.
District Court: Middle District of Florida
Jurisdiction: 11th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed October 28, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.  No responsive pleading yet filed.   

Mollet v. Hospital Sisters Health System et al.
District Court: Central District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed November 1, 2016.  Holcomb v. Hospital Sisters System et al. consolidated with this action on November 18, 2016.  
In re Mercy Health Litigation
District Court: Southern District of Ohio
Jurisdiction: 6th Circuit
Year filed: 2016
Complaint filed March 30, 2016.  Plaintiffs Lupp, Whaley, and Beidleman consolidated with this action on August 11, 2016.  The Court ordered parties to provide position statements on whether the case ought to be stayed pending the Supreme Court decision on church plan cases by December 22, 2016.
 

Bowen et al v. Wheaton Franciscan Services, Inc. et al.
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed June 28, 2016.  

Curtis v. Wheaton Franciscan Services, Inc. et al.
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed April 11, 2016.  

Brace v. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare et al.
District Court: Middle District of Tennessee
Jurisdiction: 6th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed June 11, 2016. Mediation pending.

Butler et al v. Holy Cross Hospital et al.
District Court: Northern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed June 6, 2016.  

Garbaccio et al v. St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Subsidiaries, et al.
District Court: District of New Jersey
Jurisdiction: 3rd Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed May 6, 2016.  Plaintiff Barker consolidated with this action on July 12, 2016.
 

Cappello et al v. Franciscan Alliance, Inc.  et al.
District Court: District of New Jersey
Jurisdiction: 3rd Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed May 12, 2016.  

Grasle v. Mercy Health et al.
District Court: Eastern District of Missouri
Jurisdiction: 8th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed May 10, 2016.  Plaintiff Sanzone consolidated with this action on June 27, 2016.  

Bailey et al v. OSF Healthcare System et al.
District Court: Central District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed May 3, 2016.  

Smith v. OSF Healthcare System et al.
District Court: Southern District of Illinois
Jurisdiction: 7th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed April 27, 2016.  Motion to centralize this action with Bailey (see above) denied on December 8, 2016.
 

Hodges v. Bon Secours Health System, Inc. et al.
District Court:  District of Maryland
Jurisdiction: 4th Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed April 11, 2016.  Plaintiff Miller consolidated with this action on August 24, 2016. Case settled in June 2017 for $98.3 million.

Martinez-Gonzalez et al v. Catholic Schools of the Archdioceses of San Juan Pension Plan et al.
District Court:  District of Puerto Rico
Jurisdiction: 1st Circuit
Year filed: 2016

Complaint filed June 13, 2016.

Last updated on June 7, 2017.

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