Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Category Archives: Remedies

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District Court Defines Surcharge Broadly

A New York district court held that surcharge could include not only make-whole relief, but also consequential, exemplary, or punitive damages in limited circumstances where malice or fraud is involved.  Plaintiff Janet D’Iorio alleged that Winebow breached its fiduciary duty by failing to provide an SPD and by making material misrepresentations about whether her commissions … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Breathes Life Into Participant’s Claim for Surcharge

A panel of the Ninth Circuit withdrew its earlier opinion and has now joined other circuits in finding that the equitable remedy of surcharge is available for participants seeking recovery of personal losses as opposed to losses suffered by the plan.  Gabriel v. Alaska Elec. Pension Fund, 2014 WL 7139686 (9th Cir. Dec. 16, 2014).  … Continue Reading

District Courts Continue to Reject the Ninth Circuit’s Limitation on Surcharge

We previously reported (here) that the Ninth Circuit stands alone in expressly limiting the availability of surcharge to cases involving loss to, or unjust enrichment at the expense of, the plan (as opposed to being available to a participant claiming personal loss flowing from a fiduciary breach).   See Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, … Continue Reading

View From Proskauer: The Availability of Surcharge as Relief for Individual ERISA Fiduciary Breach Claims

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court identified three forms of appropriate equitable relief — reformation, equitable estoppel and surcharge — that are available under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (‘‘ERISA’’). See Cigna Corp. v. Amara, 131 S. Ct. 1866, 50 EBC 2569, 2011 BL 128629 (2011). This article focuses on the availability of surcharge and, in particular, … Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Rejects Widow’s Claim for Equitable Relief

The Fourth Circuit recently rejected fiduciary breach and equitable estoppel claims for life insurance coverage by Leslie Moon, the widow of a deceased employee, who claimed that the employer’s actions resulted in Mr. Moon’s failure to convert his life insurance to an individual policy following the onset of his disability.  In so ruling, the Court … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Expands Availability of Remedies Under ERISA

The Sixth Circuit recently concluded that a disability plan participant was entitled to relief consisting of benefits under the plan and disgorgement of defendant’s profits for delaying payment. In so ruling, the Court found that this case presented a “a logical extension” of its precedent allowing a plaintiff to pursue in limited circumstances both a … Continue Reading

Express Plan Terms Allow Self-Insured Plan to Recover Medical Benefits Paid to Employee Post-McCutchen

In Quest Diagnostics v. Bomani, et al., 11-CV-00951 (D. Conn., June 19, 2013), the court granted Quest Diagnostic’s (“Quest”) motion for summary judgment, ruling that Quest, as the fiduciary to its self-insured medical plan, could recover medical benefits paid to its employee after the employee was injured in an accident and recovered a settlement from … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Plan Terms Trump Equitable Defenses

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen in which the Court unanimously ruled that a clearly drafted reimbursement clause will trump all equitable defenses. The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely be viewed favorably by plan sponsors, as it will allow them to anticipate with more certainty the impact … Continue Reading

Monetary Damages Potentially Available For Inadequate Disclosure

In Weaver Bros. Ins. Assoc., Inc. v. Braunstein, No. 11-5407, 2013 WL 1195529 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 2013), a district court denied the plan administrator’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, ruling that monetary relief may be available for ERISA violations associated with the plan administrator’s failure to properly communicate the participant’s benefit rights following … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Remands for Determination of Whether Surcharge is Appropriate

In Gearlds v. Entergy Servs., Inc., 2013 WL 610543 (5th Cir. Feb. 19, 2013), the Fifth Circuit held in light of CIGNA Corp. v. Amara that plaintiff pled a plausible claim for relief for losses he claims to have suffered from foregoing benefits under his wife’s retirement plan, and remanded to the district court to … Continue Reading
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