Benefits -- 2018

CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese   (U.S. Supreme Court)

Interpretation of benefits provided in a collective bargaining agreement

The NAM filed an amicus brief supporting CNH Industrial's appeal to the Supreme Court of an adverse decision involving its obligation to provide lifetime healthcare benefits to retirees. The issue in the case is whether a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that does not expressly provide for lifetime vesting of such benefits nonetheless can be interpreted to include them. While the Supreme Court has already addressed this issue in the Tackett case in 2015, the Sixth Circuit has struggled to properly implement that ruling, and improperly tipped the scales in favor of employees.

The NAM urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Sixth Circuit in order to prevent plaintiffs from flocking to that favorable jurisdiction. We sought a ruling that would reaffirm uniform and fair contract interpretation principles. Several similar cases involving the same issue are also in litigation, and could use guidance from the Supreme Court on how to interpret these ambiguous CBA provisions.

On February 20, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari and issued a per curiam decision reversing the Sixth Circuit and rendering judgment in CNH's favor. The Court reasoned that CBAs are subject to ordinary principles of contract law, and that the only reasonable interpretation of the CBA in this case is that the health care benefits expired when the CBA itself expired.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (November 6, 2017)


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