ERISA Section 502(a)(3) Claims Remanded For Reconsideration After Amara Opinion

For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the district court’s decision rejecting Plaintiffs’ claims under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B), and the district court’s dismissal of the claims of the Plaintiffs who received their distributions in the 2002-2003 Plan Years. However, we remand in part to the district court for reconsideration of the issue of whether a remedy exists under ERISA § 502(a)(3), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3), in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in CIGNA Corp. v. Amara, U.S. , 131 S. Ct. 1866 (May 16, 2011). Because we remand in part, we do not address the Defendants’ cross-appeal.

Rosario v. King & Prince Seafood Corp., 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 13204 (11th Cir. Ga. June 28, 2011)

This ESOP litigation case has a long back story that I will omit. The part of the 11th Circuit opinion that I find interesting is that the Court felt a reconsideration of the district court’s denial of 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3) claims should be undertaken in view of the Supreme Court decision in CIGNA Corp. v. Amara, U.S. , 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011).

The lower court had held that the trustees violated the consent rule that requires ERISA plans to provide participants with sufficient information to make informed decisions. (See Morgan, Lewis summary here)

The 11th Circuit ruled that the recent Supreme Court view on 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3) remedies might require a different result on remand, stating:

Having affirmed the district court’s rejection of the Plaintiffs’ § 502(a)(1)(B) claim, and the district court’s holding that there were no violations with respect to the 2002-2003 Plan Years, Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim involves the violations of the Consent Rule in the earlier years — i.e. the 1998-2001 Plan Years. Because the law of this case is that these violations are not actionable under § 502(a)(1)(B), the only issue remaining is whether these violations are actionable under § 502(a)(3). Because the intervening Supreme Court decision in Amara has provided more guidance with respect to the interpretation of § 502(a)(3), we vacate the district court’s judgment with respect to the § 502(a)(3) issue and remand this issue to the district court for reconsideration in light of Amara, and for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.