Kirkendall et al v. Halliburton, Inc. et al

Kathy Joy Kirkendall and her co-plaintiffs filed this putative class action suit, pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1002-1461, which included claims for redetermination of benefits and for improper amendment of plan terms. Plaintiffs filed suit without first availing themselves of the procedure described for “benefits claims” in pension plan documents and the district court dismissed based on Kirkendall’s failure to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court held that because Kirkendall reasonably interpreted the plan’s exhaustion requirement not to apply to a determination of future benefits and did not exhaust her administrative remedies as a result, she was not required to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court also held that Halliburton’s actions did not constitute an amendment within the meaning of ERISA section 204(g).