The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s ruling that a terminated employee who did not receive timely COBRA notices was not entitled to civil penalties. Under COBRA, when a participant commences coverage under a group health plan, the plan administrator is required to provide an initial COBRA notice explaining the individual’s COBRA rights. COBRA also requires a plan administrator to provide a COBRA election notice to individuals who lose coverage as the result of a qualifying event, such as the termination of employment. In this situation, it was undisputed that the employer failed to provide these two required COBRA notices. However, the employer also mistakenly continued the former employee’s coverage for a period of two years at no cost. ERISA provides that a plan administrator that fails to meet the COBRA notice requirements may at the court’s discretion be personally liable to such participant in the amount of up to $110 a day from the date of such failure. In this situation, however, the court decided not to impose a penalty on the plan administrator, noting that the former employee was not harmed by the employer’s failure to provide the timely COBRA notice. The court further noted that the former employee received a significant benefit by receiving two years of continuation coverage at no cost. Although the plan administrator was not assessed a penalty in this case, it serves as a reminder for employers to establish and follow their COBRA notice procedures. (In re Interstate Bakeries Corp., 8th Cir. 2013)