Challenging Multiemployer Pension Withdrawal Liability Assessments

Evaluating Whether to Challenge Assessments, Navigating the Procedural Framework, and Leveraging Defenses

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide ERISA counsel with strategies for challenging pension withdrawal assessments, with a potential for saving millions.  Experienced panelists will review considerations in making the decision to challenge the assessment, procedural pitfalls and asserting defenses.


When employers withdraw from underfunded multiemployer defined benefit plans, they can face exorbitant assessments, or exit fees, that can potentially amount to millions. The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA) requires employers to respond to an assessment, and employers can challenge the assessment in the response. Because employers often lack any understanding of the process, they inadvertently forfeit their rights to dispute and are subject to sanctions for failing to respond.

ERISA counsel must be prepared to navigate the confusing procedural maze established by the MPPAA. Additionally, once the dispute proceeds to the merits, counsel must overcome the presumption that the funds’ calculations and assessments are correct and determine whether other defenses to withdrawal liability can be asserted. 

Listen as our authoritative panel provides an overview of withdrawal liability, including the application of the MPPAA’s employer relief provisions, and the substantive defenses that may be available to withdrawing employers.  Attendees will then benefit from a detailed discussion on the procedural hurdles and practical tips for asserting defenses and negotiating a resolution.



  1. Overview of Withdrawal Liability
  2. Procedural Hurdles and MPPAA’s Dispute Resolution Process
  3. Asserting Substantive Defenses and Resolving the Claim


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How should employers respond to an MPPAA demand letter?
  • What circumstances are optimal for challenging multiemployer pension withdrawal liability?
  • What are the MPPAA procedural requirements for assessment challenges? How best may employers avoid pitfalls?
  • What are the substantive defense strategies that counsel should consider when disputing an assessment?


Patrick W. Spangler
Patrick W. Spangler

Senior Associate
Vedder Price

Mr. Spangler works with in-house counsel and management to provide advice related to litigation, major business...  |  Read More

Charles B. (Chuck) Wolf
Charles B. (Chuck) Wolf

Vedder Price

Mr. Wolf focuses on labor, employment and employee benefits law and litigation, representing employers and...  |  Read More

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