Synergy Blog

From Roger Baron: “hardship” to participant warrants denial of equitable relief to ERISA plan seeking § 502(a)(3)(B) relief

Reprinted with Permission from Roger Baron

The case of Longuski v. Iron Workers’ Local No. 24, 2012 W.L. 1247172 (E.D.Mich. April 13, 2012) involves a dispute over a disability pension benefit. The ERISA plan asserted a counterclaim under ERISA § 502(a)(3)(B) for “appropriate equitable relief.” The plan sought enforcement of an equitable lien for $95,980 which the plan alleged was mistakenly paid to Longuski. This court denies the counterclaim holding, inter alia, that “it would be inequitable to order Plaintiff to pay $97,980.00 to reimburse the Plan for the mistake it made in paying benefits in the first place.”  This decision relies upon a 1992 6th circuit decision which held that it is appropriate to consider “hardship [plan participants] would suffer if they were forced to pay back benefits which they had received and depended upon.”  As to the facts relating to Longuski’ situation, the court states, “Plaintiff and his family spent the benefits they received in order to pay for the necessities of living during the period he received benefits. Plaintiff cannot afford to repay the benefits that were mistakenly paid.”

To view the opinion click HERE

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