NFL Player's Suit for Retirement Benefits Not Headed for Supreme Court Review

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March 23 — The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it won't hear a case by a former NFL defensive back and wide receiver who argued that the league's retirement plan wrongfully offset his benefits.

Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected Dwight Harrison's attempt to seek benefits from the National Football League retirement plan. According to the appellate court's unpublished ruling, Harrison's claims were barred by multiple previous lawsuits he filed against the plan.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas also sided with the NFL plan, finding that the judicial doctrine of res judicata prevented Harrison from litigating issues that had been decided in previous court rulings.

The Supreme Court announced its decision declining review March 23.

In his petition for Supreme Court review, Harrison asked—among other things—whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's anti-alienation and non-forfeiture provisions prohibited an ERISA plan administrator from using a participant's vested pension benefits to collect overpaid welfare benefits.

The petition was filed by Jeffrey E. Dahl, San Antonio.

Text of the Fifth Circuit's ruling is at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/United_States_Court_of_Appeals_Fifth_Circuit_FILED_DWIGHT_HARRISO.