On June 17, 2013, defendants in Chavies v. Catholic Health East and Rollins v. Dignity Health each filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits against them. A copy of the motion in Chavies is available here. A copy of the motion in Rollins is available here.
Each motion makes two broad arguments: (1) the defined benefit pension plan is a proper church plan and (2) the church plan exemption does not violate the Establishment Clause.
Each motion is highly factual in arguing how each hospital association is closely connected with and controlled by the Roman Catholic Church. This is not a surprise, as the issue of control is going to be the key to resolution of these cases. For example, the motion in Chavies attaches a comprehensive affidavit from a nun/adminstrator that spends significant pages explaining canon law of the Catholic church. The Chavies motion also lays out what appears to be a complete, or nearly complete, listing of every court case to ever address the church plan exemption.
Of interest, both motions were filed by the law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, although by different groups of attorneys within the firm, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of previously litigating cases against.