In Apol­lo Edu­ca­tion Group Inc. vs. Hen­ry (Ari­zona) the com­pa­ny sought to recov­er dam­ages from a third par­ty pay­ing due to an acci­dent. The plan par­tic­i­pant assert­ed that the plan had no right to reim­burse­ment because the for­mal plan doc­u­ment did not con­tain any reim­burse­ment pro­vi­sions. The plan con­tend­ed these rights were con­tained in the Sum­ma­ry Plan Description.
The court said the plan doc­u­ment was the con­trol­ling piece here. “The court reject­ed the plan’s argu­ment that the doc­u­ments were effec­tive­ly one and the same due to the incor­po­ra­tion by ref­er­ence, point­ing to an SPD pro­vi­sion spec­i­fy­ing that the for­mal plan doc­u­ment would gov­ern any con­flict as evi­dence that the doc­u­ments were distinct