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The Preclusion of bringing one Claim under two ERISA Subsections: M.D. Ga.

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  • The Preclusion of bringing one Claim under two ERISA Subsections: M.D. Ga.

    In a recent case from Georgia, the court takes up the issue of bringing one claim under two distinct ERISA subsections. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges two claims: (1) that Defendant breached its Plan obligations when it changed Plans in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1132; and (2) that Defendant breached its fiduciary duty to Plaintiff when it misled Plaintiff as to the details of the Plans in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1102. The court held:

    Plaintiff has sought relief under two subsections of ERISA. The law is clear, however, that he cannot do so. “Under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B) (codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)), a beneficiary in a plan governed by ERISA can sue in federal court ‘to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan.’ Under a separate ERISA subsection, § 502(a)(3) (codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3)), a beneficiary can ‘obtain other appropriate equitable relief’ for breach of fiduciary duty.” Vaughn v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 2017 WL 748725, at *2 (N.D. Ga. Feb. 27, 2017) (citations omitted). “These two distinct ERISA subsections are aimed at redressing separate violations, and a claim properly brought under one cannot proceed alternatively under the other.”
    Ultimately, the court granted the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss in part, but allowed the Plaintiff's breach of plan obligation claim and breach of fiduciary duty claim to survive. The opinion is attached below.
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