The empire of Genghis Khan stretched across thousands of miles, conquering all that it encountered. While at times, the doctrine of ERISA preemption seems to have a similar track record, it encountered a limit in Atkins v. CB&I, LLC, a dispute about whether a severance plan came within ERISA’s scope. The Fifth Circuit observed that the plan lacked “the ongoing administrative scheme characteristic of an ERISA plan,” specifically noting that it “calls only for a single payment,” the “simplicity of calculating the one-time payment,” that no discretionary decisions were called for as to the specific plaintiffs in this case, and that the situation did not present “any special administrative apparatus dedicated to overseeing the Plan.” No. 20-30004 (March 22, 2021).
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