Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SCOTUS on ERISA Limitations Period

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Tibble v. Edison International.

Justice Breyer
Supreme Court Collection
by Steve Petteway
ERISA has a 6-year statute of limitations that runs from “the date of the last action which constitutes a part of the breach or violation” or “in the case of an omission the latest date on which the fiduciary could have cured the breach or violation,” 29 U. S. C. §1113. So, let's say a fiduciary selected mutual fund investments in 1999 - and, similar but cheaper mutual funds were available. Now, let's say beneficiaries file a breach of fiduciary duty claim under ERISA in 2007. Timely?

If you said, "2007 is more than six years after 1999, so NO," then welcome to the 9th Circuit's world. But we're in Justice Breyer's world now (joined by a unanimous Supreme Court):
Under trust law, a trustee has a continuing duty to monitor trust investments and remove imprudent ones. This continuing duty exists separate and apart from the trustee’s duty to exercise prudence in selecting investments at the outset . . . . A plaintiff may allege that a fiduciary breached the duty of prudence by failing to properly monitor investments and remove imprudent ones. In such a case, so long as the alleged breach of the continuing duty occurred within six years of suit, the claim is timely.
The Court declined to express a view regarding the precise scope of this continuing obligation (or decide what kind of review, if any, was required under the circumstances in this case).