7th Circuit Reviews Summary Judgment For Clear Error In Non-Jury Case

A pension fund sued a partnership under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act, an amendment to ERISA, to recover an outstanding liability. The pension fund obtained summary judgment, and the partnership appealed.

The standard of review was brought into question. Typically, summary judgments, including in ERISA cases, are reviewed de novo. But the Seventh Circuit has “held that the clearly erroneous standard of review applies when the only issue before the district court is the characterization of undisputed subsidiary facts and where a party does not have the right to a jury trial.”

In this case, the appellate court ruled that the partnership was not entitled to a jury trial under the MPPAA, so the correct standard of review was the more deferential “clearly erroneous.”

The whole case, McDougall v. Pioneer Ranch Ltd. Partnership, No. 06-3757 (7/12/07), is available by clicking here.