The Supreme Court released one opinion this morning:
M & G Polymers USA v. Tackett: In an opinion by Justice Thomas, a unanimous Court held that the Sixth Circuit erred in reasoning that collective bargaining agreements created a right to lifetime contribution-free health care benefits for retirees, their surviving spouses, and their dependents. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for application of ordinary principles of contract law. Per Justice Thomas for the Court:
"This case arises out of a disagreement between a group of retired employees and their former employer about the meaning of certain expired collective-bargaining agreements. The retirees (and their former union) claim that these agreements created a right to lifetime contribution-free health care benefits for retirees, their surviving spouses, and their dependents. The employer, for its part, claims that those provisions terminated when the agreements expired. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sided with the retirees, relying on its conclusion in International Union, United Auto, Aerospace, & Agricultural Implement Workers of Am. v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F. 2d 1476, 1479 (1983), that retiree health care benefits are unlikely to be left up to future negotiations. We granted certiorari and now conclude that such reasoning is incompatible with ordinary principles of contract law. We therefore vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for it to apply ordinary principles of contract law in the first instance."
Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, suggesting that the employer was not necessarily certain to win on remand.