Pension Liabilities under Defined Benefit
and Multi-employer (Union) Plans
2018.03.12 Successor Liability -- "Big Buyer" Defense Fails for Asset Purchaser. For an asset purchaser to be held liable for withdrawal liability as a successor to a seller's multiemployer plan obligations, the purchaser must - (i) have had notice of the seller’s withdrawal liability, and (ii) “substantially continued” the seller’s operations. Under what some call the “big buyer” defense, purchasers have argued that they are not substantially continuing the seller’s business when those operations comprise only a small proportion of the purchaser’s post-acquistions operations. In Ind. Elec. Workers Pension Benefit Fund v. ManWeb Servs., the Seventh Circuit rejected that defense, and held that the proper inquiry focuses solely on the seller's operations, thereby hinging on the extent to which the purchaser continues the seller’s business after the asset purchase.
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