US Airways V. McCutchen Spurs Revision Of ERISA Plans

Law360, New York (April 26, 2013, 11:50 AM EDT) -- Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court held in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen that in a Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 502(a)(3) action for equitable relief to enforce an ERISA plan’s terms, the terms govern the specific right to relief, while equitable doctrines provide default legal rules.

On one hand, the plan’s terms cannot be overridden by equitable doctrines of unjust enrichment that are at odds with those terms. On the other, in construing those terms, courts may use these doctrines to “fill in the gap” left by the terms’ silence on an issue in dispute. As the precise plan language can...

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