This article discusses the legal theories and causes of action that are commonly associated with claims for benefits of retirees. The authors begin by discussing the way contractual benefits are analyzed by the courts, including the determination of a governing document, the Yard-Man Inference, and the use of extrinsic evidence when governing documents are ambiguous. The authors then discuss several potential claims employees may raise in an attempt to secure benefits, such as promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel, and breach of fiduciary duty. The authors conclude by stating that although they have attempted to lay out the claims associated with retiree benefits in a neutral manner, the authors support a presumption of vesting benefits by the courts.
Payne, William T. and Ewing, Pamina
"Union-Negotiated Lifetime Retiree Health Benefits: Promise or Illusion,"
Marquette Elder's Advisor:
2, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/elders/vol9/iss2/5