Sterling Chemicals, Inc. v. Evans

Oral Argument Date:
Vote: Cert. Denied

Question(s) Presented
U.S. Chamber's Position

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to take this case to decide whether a single paragraph in an asset purchase agreement can amend an ERISA benefit plan as a matter of law where the parties to the asset purchase agreement did not intend to amend the plan and the paragraph does not reference the plan or purport to be a plan amendment. In this case the Fifth Circuit held that a provision in an asset purchase agreement addressing retiree benefits modified the acquiring company’s employee benefit plan. In its amicus brief, NCLC argued that the decision directly conflicts with other circuit court decisions, as well as the Supreme Court’s decisions in Curtiss-Wright and Shaver. If allowed to stand, the decision would unsettle the terms of ERISA-covered plans, generating uncertainty and serious compliance issues for businesses. It would also burden federal courts with a new and entirely unnecessary class of ERISA litigation.

Case Outcome

Cert. denied 3/19/12. 

Procedural History

Amicus brief filed 3/13/2012.

Case Documents