Originally published in Benefits Law Journal.

Champagne and a steak dinner have traditionally marked celebrations at the close of a corporate deal. Celebrations these days are being marred by a party pooper—Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) pension plan successor liability.

Increasingly, courts are delivering a “pay up now” notice to the buyer of financially challenged companies with underfunded pension plans through the use of innovative judicial remedies. On September 4, 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Seventh and the Eighth Circuits in adopting a federal common law “categorical test” to impose withdrawal liability on a successor employer to a single employer pension plan.

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