Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: ERISA
  • Date Filed: June 28, 2019
  • Case #: 17-1712
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 873 F.3d 617 (8th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

(1) Whether an ERISA plan participant or beneficiary may seek injunctive relief against fiduciary misconduct under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3) without demonstrating individual financial loss or the imminent risk thereof; (2) whether an ERISA plan participant or beneficiary may seek restoration of plan losses caused by fiduciary breach under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2) without demonstrating individual financial loss or the imminent risk thereof; and (3) whether petitioners have demonstrated Article III standing.

Respondent sponors and is a ficudiary of a defined benefit pension plan for employees. Following the 2008 financial crisis, the pension plan lost $1.1 billion dollars. Petitioners filed suit, alleging that Respondents violated multiple provisions of ERISA, namely fiduciary and loyalty duties. Petitioners sought an injunction to have Respondent removed as fiduciary under 29 U.S.C. §1132(a)(3) and restore to the plan $748 million in losses under 29 U.S.C. §1132(a)(2). Respondents contributed $339 million to the plan and brought it back to “overfunded” status after the commencement of suit. The district court found that this removed any Article III controversy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirmed and further found that Petitioners did not have a loss-restoration claim because they had not actually suffered financial loss. The court split on whether the Petitioners had standing for the injunctive relief claim under §1132(a)(3) for the same reason. In arguing in favor of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court, Petitioner notes that by holding a plan participant must suffer actual monetary injury the Eighth Circuit creates a split with the Second, Third, and Sixth Circuits. Petitioner argues that this holding undermines the purpose of ERISA to assist the Department of Labor in policing fiduciary violations of fiduciary duties. Petitioner also argues that fiduciary breaches under ERISA constitute intangible injuries that are permissible for purposes of Article III standing and injunctive relief.

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