:: How Long Is Too Long In An ERISA Case?

Therefore, the circuit courts generally have refused to apply the ERISA statute of limitations to any ERISA action that arises under a provision other than the fiduciary duty section for plan recoveries.  These other ERISA causes of action are most notably the informational penalty lawsuit,  the benefits due lawsuit, the equitable remedy lawsuit to enforce various plan provisions,  the employer retaliatory discrimination lawsuit,  and the employer delinquent contribution lawsuit.

In these five situations, the circuit courts have opted to use other law to determine the limitations period. Surprisingly, the circuit courts, rather than developing a uniform federal common law rule applicable to all persons similarly situated, have instead chosen to use the very same state law that ERISA supposedly preempted. Even more shocking is that the state law generally chosen is the same contract law rejected for determining whether the court should conduct the ERISA lawsuit by jury trial.

George Lee Flint, Jr., ERISA: Fumbling the Limitations Period 84 Neb. L. Rev. 313 (2005)

Merits of a case aside, it must be timely.  What is timely under ERISA?  The question can be quite troublesome.

In Pressley v. Tupperware LTD, the Fourth Circuit has recently held that 29 U.S.C. 1132(c) claims for failure to respond for a request for information are subject to a three year statute of limitations (applying South Carolina law).

I posted today a query about the limitations period proper  for assertion of a ERISA plan reimbursement claim. As noted in that context, the reimbursement right must be authorized under ERISA Section 502(a)(3).  As an example of how a court might approach the issue, I noted that;

The Fourth Circuit has held that a claim asserted under 502 of ERISA is analogous to a contract claim and, according to one district court, is thus governed by the limitations period applicable to contract actions in the forum state. See, Lincoln Gen. Ins. Co. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 425 F. Supp. 2d 738 (E.D. Va. 2006). In Lincoln the district court applied a 5 year limitations period based upon Virginia law.

As the law review article noted above indicates, however, the questions are remarkably varied considering the vaunted comprehensive and reticulated nature of the ERISA statute