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

Yet Another Decision On The Availability of Equitable Surcharge

A district court in Pennsylvania concluded that a decedent’s life insurance plan beneficiaries were entitled to equitable surcharge where the plan administrator failed to, among other things, inform the decedent about the need to convert her group policy to an individual policy. Weaver Brothers Insurance Associates, Inc. v. Braunstein, 2014 WL 2599929 (E.D. Pa. June … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Attempt to Prevent Plan from Recouping $250,000 Overpayment

A federal district court in the Northern District of California dismissed an equitable estoppel claim brought by a pension-plan participant seeking to prevent the plan from recouping an overpayment. See Groves v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., No. 13-cv-2259, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38755 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2014). Relying on defendants’ representations that participants … 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

Sixth Circuit: Plan Fiduciary Reasonably Relied On Benefit Calculations In Communicating To Participant

The Sixth Circuit recently rejected a participant’s claim that a benefit estimate should override the specific benefit promised under the terms of the plan. In Stark v. Mars Inc., No. 12-3956, 2013 WL 1908889 (6th Cir. May 9, 2013) (unpublished), the Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the plan’s fiduciary committee. The plaintiff, … 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

Second Circuit: Deferential Standard Applies Without Notice To Participants & Reimbursement Claims Are Equitable Relief

Yesterday, the Second Circuit ruled on two important issues of note for ERISA plan sponsors and plan fiduciaries. In Thurber v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., 2013 WL 950704 (2d Cir. Mar. 13, 2013), the Court ruled that participants and beneficiaries are not required to be put on notice that: the plan fiduciary has reserved discretion to … Continue Reading
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