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In Brief


High court permits pension termination

An employer can terminate its pension plans even if the union representing the company's employees offers--in lieu of termination--to merge the corporate plans with a multiemployer plan covering union-represented employees, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week. Crown Vantage Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and then liquidated assets, intended to terminate its pension plans and use a $5 million surplus to pay creditors. PACE International Union sought a plan merger, but the high court ruled that Crown did not have a fiduciary duty to accept the union's offer.

Vermont law allows captive securitizations

Vermont Gov. James Douglas has signed legislation allowing reinsurance captives to conduct capital market securitized transactions. The law is seen as a boost for funding "Triple X" captives, formed by life insurance companies to remove hundreds of millions of dollars of reserve liability from their balance sheets.

Benefits group proposes health system overhaul

Benefits lobbying group the ERISA Industry Committee last week unveiled a proposal under which competing benefit administrators would offer pension, savings and health care plans to employers and employees. The group envisions significant administrative savings through the new structure.

High court denies venue change bid

The mere fact that a company must comply with Federal Trade Commission advertising regulations does not make that company "a person acting under a federal officer" and does not permit it to move a civil case from state to federal court, the Supreme Court ruled last week in Lisa Watson vs. Philip Morris Cos. Inc. et al. Philip Morris had attempted to move to federal court from an Arkansas state court a class action suit alleging that it had violated state law by misrepresenting how much tar and nicotine its light cigarettes contained.


Joseph J. Beneducci has stepped down as chief executive officer of Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. after approximately six months in the role. Allianz of America Inc. President Chuck Kavitsky--who served as CEO of Fireman's Fund from 2004 to 2006--has been named interim CEO. A spokeswoman for the insurer cited "personal and career reasons" for the departure of Mr. Beneducci ....Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood sued State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. last week in circuit court for bad faith breach of contract related to the Hurricane Katrina-related settlement the two parties entered into in January.