Court Enforces Forum Selection Clause in ERISA Plan

A federal district court in New York enforced an ERISA retirement plan’s forum selection clause and transferred the case to the District of New Jersey. The plaintiff argued that the forum selection clause was invalid because it conflicted with ERISA’s venue provision, which provides that an ERISA action “may be brought in the district where the plan is administered, where the breach took place, or where a defendant resides or may be found.” ERISA Section 502(e). The court held that ERISA’s venue rule provides a set of options, but does not prohibit private parties from narrowing the options to one of the three enumerated venues through a forum selection clause (and deferred for another day whether a venue selection clause could specify a venue unrelated to ERISA Section 502(e)). The court noted that its holding was in line with the vast majority of courts to consider the issue. The case is Malagoli v. AXA Equitable Life Ins. Co., No. 14-CV-7180 (AJN), 2016 BL 92517 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 24, 2016).

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