In recent years, we have followed several cases brought to Federal Courts alleging that the COBRA Rules were violated due to the content of the Notice Language used by employers. These employers include Lowe's, Starbucks and now Fiat Chrysler. Here is a LINK to the claim made against Fiat-Chrysler. Yes, it is 23 pages long but taking just 5 minutes of scanning the very orderly argument posed by the attorney for the claimant, it is clear that using the Model Notice is just a mater of common sense. Here's why.
Of course, leaving out any of the required elements is a "rookie mistake" that either shows ignorance of the rules themselves or an assumption that the recipient of the letter understands some aspects of their rights or benefits that are required to be spelled out ... like who to contact about COBRA or benefit questions. So, the 8 plus pages of a Qualifying Event Notice that IS the Model Notice does everything required and therefore should be complete and eliminate this type of claim. So, the liability that remains is related to getting the letters sent, documented and requests for status change are responded to in a timely manner.
Using the language in the Model Notices and all their variants (there are over 65 different letters related to COBRA) keep the process compliant though somewhat confusing. Plan language is certainly in the eyes of the experience of the person reading. Having read thousands upon thousands of cases over the years related to many areas of employment law and then sharing some of those with others to read ... like this one linked above usually results is groans of "it's 23 pages long". Hmmmmm. That sounds a little like the groan of a COBRA Qualifier that says "it's 8 pages long". Yep. But it is ALL in there ... just like the old Prego Spaghetti Sauce commercial, "It's in there!"