District Judge J. Paul Oetken


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Levy sued Young Adult Inst. Inc. (YAI) under ERISA to recover benefits due under its supplemental executive retirement plan (SERP). Addressing the five considerations in Innovative Biodefense Inc. v. VSP Techs. Inc., 176 F. Supp. 3d 305, the court’s Nov. 22, 2016 bench ruling held defendants breached an acknowledgment and release document (A&R). The court denied defendants’ reconsideration motion asserting that due to ERISA preemption it should have applied federal common law, not New York law, in evaluating whether a contract had been materially breached. Application of the five relevant factors endorsed by Restatement (Second) of Contracts §241, as urged by defendants, would not alter the court’s analysis or the result of its bench ruling. New York law and Restatement §241 embody the same test and approach. Nor did YAI act in “good faith” in ceasing payments to Levy contrary to their bargain, which breach was material. Addressing post-trial issues, the court found prejudgment interest applicable to payments past due to Levy were to be at the federal prime rate. As to future payments to Levy, the court found an annuity appropriate in light of SERP terms contemplating payment of a monthly annuity.