ERISA Benefits Litigation Defenses: Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies and Statute of Limitations

Leveraging Pre-Trial Defenses Amid Divergent Court Standards

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide guidance to attorneys defending ERISA claims on the exhaustion of administrative remedies defense and crafting plan provisions to preserve the exhaustion defense and limit litigation over outdated claims.


Courts have routinely applied the administrative exhaustion requirement to Section 502(a)(1)(B) benefits claims, but not to Section 502(a)(2) breach of fiduciary duty claims, resulting in inconsistent court rulings on applying the exhaustion requirement.

Preserving the exhaustion argument in litigation depends heavily on the plan language, which makes plan drafting and documentation even more critical. Many courts have also upheld contractual venue provisions where plans have attempted to exercise control over venue through plan design.

In addition, benefit plans may contractually provide for a shorter statute of limitations period than provided under state law and specify when a claim accrues. The ability to control accrual dates through plan design can avoid litigation over outdated claims.

Listen as our authoritative panel of ERISA attorneys analyzes the exhaustion of administrative remedies defense in ERISA benefits litigation and provides best practices to preserve the exhaustion defense and shorten the statute of limitations through plan design.



  1. Exhaustion of administrative remedies defense
    1. Applicability to Section 502 (a)(1)(b) benefits due claims
    2. Applicability to Section 502(a)(2) and (a)(3) breach of fiduciary duty claims
    3. Futility exception
    4. Issues exhaustion
    5. Statute of limitations and contractual limitations
    6. Accrual of claims
  2. Plan design for the claims administration process
    1. Scope of claims subject to the administrative process
    2. Appeals procedures
    3. Production of relevant information and documents
    4. Forum selection and arbitration clauses
    5. Statute of limitations


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How do courts apply the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement to breach of fiduciary duties claims?
  • What is issues exhaustion and how can plans address this issue?
  • How can plans preserve and maximize the administrative exhaustion defense through plan design?


Todd D. Wozniak
Todd D. Wozniak

Greenberg Traurig

He is a trial lawyer who defends companies and public institutions nationwide in labor and employment, ERISA, and...  |  Read More

Patrick W. Spangler
Patrick W. Spangler

Vedder Price

His practice focuses on employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and ERISA litigation, employee benefit plan...  |  Read More

Patrick C. DiCarlo
Patrick C. DiCarlo

Alston & Bird

Mr. DiCarlo focuses his practice on ERISA litigation and represents retirement and welfare plans in claims for...  |  Read More

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