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COURTS

Supreme Court will hear church-plan cases

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take several cases challenging whether church-affiliated defined benefit plan sponsors must be covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The court is consolidating three cases brought by plan sponsors Dignity Health, Advocate Health Care and Saint Peter's Healthcare, who are appealing lower court decisions that they are bound by ERISA.

The argument date has not been set.

As more participants have brought class-action lawsuits in recent years challenging some church-affiliated health-care employers’ exemption from ERISA, there has been a growing split among appeals court circuits. Several circuits have agreed with the participants, but at least two other courts have upheld sponsors’ right to claim the exemption.