Last Thursday, March 27th in New Jersey District Court in Trenton, Judge Michael A. Shipp heard oral arguments from the litigants in Kaplan v. Saint Peter's Healthcare System concerning Saint Peter's motion to dismiss the case.
The judge was by all accounts well-prepared with a good understanding of the issues. There was much interest and discussion of the recent decision in the related case Rollins v. Dignity Health that that corporation's pension was not a church plan under federal law. Like the judge in that case, Judge Shipp dismissed as irrelevant all discussion of the IRS's recent history of granting church plan status to organizations that have only an association with a church. He said he would issue a ruling on Saint Peter's motion sometime the following week, i.e., this week. This would be a very rapid result; judges (reportedly) typically take two months to a year to issue such rulings. This ruling would not necessarily decide the case, as the Dignity ruling essentially has in that case; we will have to wait and see what develops.
We await the impending ruling with cautious optimism, and we will issue a post when we hear a result. Thanks for your patience!