The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to dismiss a participant's claim on the grounds of a venue selection clause in the sponsor's plan documents, and in the process overruled the Secretary of Labor's interpretation of ERISA's compatibility with venue clauses.

On March 1, 2000, Robert Smith, an employee of Commonwealth General Corporation, which merged with Aegon, USA at the end of Smith's career, retired with what he thought would be a lifetime monthly benefit of about $2,200, from two company-sponsored plans, as well as a lump-sum payment of about $155,000.

In 2007, long after Smith had left the company, Aegon amended its retirement plan to add a "venue provision," which said that a participant "shall only bring action in connection with the plan in Federal District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa." The U.S. arm of the global investment and insurance company is located in Des Moines, Iowa.

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