Legal Memorandum: Civil Enforcement (ERISA)

Issue: What provisions of ERISA provide individual rights to bring an action against a plan?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Individual Rights; ERISA; Civil action
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 29 U.S.C. § 1132; 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a) (2004); 29 U.S.C. § 1109
Date: 05/01/2007

All of the potential ERISA causes of action are set out in 29 U.S.C. § 1132, which provides:

A civil action may be brought

(1)               by a participant or beneficiary

(A) for the relief provided for in subsection (c) of this section [relating to refusal to provide requested information], or

(B) to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the plan.


29 U.S.C. § 1132(a) (2004). 

In addition, subsection (a)(2) further empowers a participant or beneficiary to bring an action for relief under § 1109 of Title 29, which relates to fiduciary duties.  Specifically, § 1109 provides that 

[a]ny person who is a fiduciary with respect to a plan who breaches any of the responsibilities, obligations, or duties imposed upon fiduciaries . . . shall be personally liable to make good to such plan any losses to the plan resulting from such breach, and to restore to such plan any profits of such fiduciary which have been made through use of assets of the plan by the fiduciary, and shall be subject to such other equitable or remedial relief as the court may deem appropriate, including removal of such fiduciary.

Id. § 1109. 


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