Judge Rebuffs Court Hopping Move in QDRO Case

September 8, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge in Michigan has turned away efforts by a pension plan administrator to move to federal court a lawsuit filed by the ex-wife of an employee over benefits under a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO)

>The judge sent the case back to a state court, ruling that the matter was properly handled in the context of a divorce action and that the administrator was relying on ERISA as a state court defense, according to a Thompson report.

>The administrator had pushed for the case to move to federal court on the grounds that ex-wife’s motion was a “claim” within the meaning of ERISA.

>The judge also decided that the ex-wife’s motion to have the administrator held in contempt for not releasing the benefits is actually connected to the state divorce case and seeks no additional relief than that which the former wife claims entitlement to as a result of the divorce.

The case is Scales v. General Motors Corp. Pension Administrator, 2003 WL 21844493(E.D. Mich. July 31, 2003).