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Cases & Deals

February 28, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of King & Spalding Clients re Lifetime Retiree Health Benefits

Feb. 20, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare summary reversal of a lower court decision—without merits briefing or oral argument—in favor of King & Spalding clients CNH Industrial N.V. and its subsidiary CNG Industrial America LLC.

The clients are Fiat Group affiliates that manufacture equipment for the construction, agricultural, trucking and bus industries. The case addressed whether health care benefits provided by a collective bargaining agreement to a class of retirees are lifetime vested and unalterable, or terminable upon expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) containing them.

After 14 years of litigation, including four different summary judgment rulings by the district court and three appeals to the Sixth Circuit (2009, 2012, 2017), the Supreme Court unanimously held that the right to the benefits terminated when the CBA expired in 2004. The decision has received media attention from Thompson Reuters, Law360, SHRM Online, Bloomberg and other outlets. The King & Spalding team on this matter included Bobby Burchfield and Josh Mitchell with assistance from Conor Daniels.