First Circuit Win for Pierce Atwood and Unum Life Insurance Company

On July 2, 2014, a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that Unum Life Insurance Company’s practice of using Retained Asset Accounts (RAAs) to pay death benefits claims on group life insurance policies, which specifically provided for the use of RAAs, does not violate the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The decision, which comes after four years of class litigation, brings the First Circuit in line with prior decisions of the Second and Third Circuits involving other insurers, as well as opinions expressed by the Department of Labor. It also clarifies the reach of a prior First Circuit decision, which had held that paying group life benefits through RAAs violated ERISA where plan documents required payment by lump sum.

Unum was represented by a team of lawyers from Pierce Atwood’s Boston and Portland offices, including Donald R. Frederico, Cathy Connors, Byrne Decker, Gavin McCarthy, Katherine Kayatta and Alice Wang.

Read the decision.

Pierce Atwood assists its clients to vigorously defend class actions on the merits, to challenge class certification where appropriate, and to navigate the complex class litigation process.