Moyle v. Liberty Mut. Ret. Benefit Plan, No. 13-56330 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, former employees of Golden Eagle, filed a class action against Liberty Mutual for violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that when Liberty Mutual purchased Golden Eagle, Liberty Mutual told plaintiffs that they would receive past service credit for the time they worked with Golden Eagle under Liberty Mutual’s retirement plan. The district court granted summary judgment to Liberty Mutual. The court concluded that plaintiffs cannot receive benefits for past service credit with Golden Eagle under the terms of the retirement plan where the district court applied the correct abuse of discretion standard, and Liberty Mutual's interpretation of the plan was reasonable. The court also concluded that plaintiffs are not barred from bringing simultaneous claims under section 1132(a)(3) and 1132(a)(1)(B). In Varity Corp. v. Howe, equitable relief under section 1132(a)(3) is not available if section 1132(a)(1)(B) provides an adequate remedy. In CIGNA Corp. v. Amara, section 1132(a)(3) authorized equitable relief in the form of plan reformation, even though plaintiffs also claimed relief under section 1132(a)(1)(B). Applying Amara’s conclusion that a plaintiff may seek relief under both section 1132(a)(1)(B) and section 1132(a)(3) does not contravene the ruling in Varity. The court further concluded that Liberty Mutual failed to notify plaintiffs in its summary plan descriptions that past service credit with Golden Eagle would not count for benefits accrual, but plaintiffs did not prove harm or reliance on the summary plan descriptions. Finally, the class certification was appropriate. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 18, 2016.