No Requirement to Provide Non-Existent Document

January 20, 2003 ( - An employer did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by not providing a worker with a plan document, since at the time of the request the document didn't exist, a federal appellate court ruled.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last week ruled in an unpublished opinion that the failure to provide a worker with a comprehensive plan document relating to its short-term disability benefit plan did not constitute an ERISA violation, according to Washington-based legal publisher BNA.  

Instrument “Reading”

The court noted that, at the time of the employee’s request, employer Compaq Computer had not completed its comprehensive short-term disability plan document.   Consequently, the document was not an instrument under which the plan was established or operated at the time of the request – and Compaq was not required to provide the document.

The court also noted that Compaq did provide the document when it was completed.

The court also rebuffed the employee’s claim for attorneys’ fees, noting that, since the employee’s claim did not succeed on the merits, she was not entitled to attorneys’ fees.

The case is Jolly v. Compaq Computer Corp., 4th Cir., No. 01-2281, unpublished 1/14/03.