Opinion of the Court
amendment summaries "shall be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant." § 1022(a)(1).
More important, independent of any information automatically distributed to beneficiaries, ERISA requires that every plan administrator make available for inspection in the administrator's "principal office" and other designated locations a set of all currently operative, governing plan documents, see § 1024(b)(2), which necessarily includes any new, bona fide amendments. See also § 1024(b)(4) (requiring plan administrators, upon written request, to furnish beneficiaries with copies of governing plan documents for a reasonable copying charge). As indicated earlier, plan administrators appear to have a statutory responsibility actually to run the plan in accordance with the currently operative, governing plan documents and thus an independent incentive for obtaining new amendments as quickly as possible and for weeding out defective ones.
This may not be a foolproof informational scheme, although it is quite thorough. Either way, it is the scheme that Congress devised. And we do not think Congress intended it to be supplemented by a faraway provision in another part of the statute, least of all in a way that would lead to improbable results, supra, at 81.
In concluding that Curtiss-Wright's reservation clause sets forth a valid amendment procedure, we do not mean to imply that there is anything wrong with plan beneficiaries trying to prove that unfavorable plan amendments were not properly adopted and are thus invalid. This is exactly what respondents are trying to do here, and nothing in ERISA is designed to obstruct such efforts. But nothing in ERISA is designed to facilitate such efforts either. To be sure, some companies that have plans with the standard reservation clause may want to provide greater specification to their amendment procedures precisely to avoid such costly litigation. Or they may want to retain the flexibility thatPage: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007