On June 19, 2013, Stacy Schuett married Lesley Taboada-Hall in a California civil ceremony. The next day Taboada-Hall passed away from cancer. At the time of their ceremony marriage licenses were not given to same-sex couples, but it was only six days later that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which ended California's ban on same-sex marriage.
Taboada-Hall was a long-time FedEx employee with a pension plan.
Schuett put in a claim for survivor benefits, which the company denied as their plan language tracked the language of the Defense of Marriage Act and did not allow for benefits to go to same-sex couples.
Schuett sued. FedEx asked for summary judgment.
Courthouse News Service reports in "FedEx Must Face Gay Widow's Benefits Suit" that one of Schuett's claims will be allowed and FedEx must defend itself.
With pension plans being a large part of many people's estate and retirement plans this is a very important case to watch. One of the reasons that advocates wanted same-sex marriage was for the very reason of receiving legal benefits that traditional couples are entitled to, such as survivor benefits.
While at the time of the marriage and Taboada-Hall's death FedEx's pension plan was in accordance with the law, a court could rule that they still have to pay benefits because the law the company relied on was declared to be unconstitutional.
Such a ruling could have broad implications for pension plans and the ability of same-sex couples to receive benefits that otherwise might have been denied.
Reference: Courthouse News Service (Jan. 6, 2016) "FedEx Must Face Gay Widow's Benefits Suit"