Ninth Circuit clarifies the scope and application of “surcharge” and “reformation” remedies under ERISA

In a seminal appellate decision, the Ninth Circuit defined the parameters of the “surcharge” and “reformation” remedies that were offered up by the United States Supreme Court in CIGNA Corp. et al. v. Amara et al., 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011) as potential relief under ERISA Section 502(a)(3). In Amara, the Supreme Court ruled that a summary plan description, or “SPD,” is not a “Plan” subject to enforcement under ERISA Section 502(a)(1)(B). The Supreme Court posited, however, that an employer’s issuance of an intentionally misleading SPD might be remedied under ERISA Section 502(a)(3), under the equitable doctrines of estoppel, reformation and/or surcharge.

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