ERISA Disclosure Litigation and Equitable Remedies: One Year After Cigna Corp. v. Amara

Assessing Latest Developments on Enforcement of Plan Descriptions, Burdens of Proof, and Equitable Remedies

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

Conducted on Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide benefits counsel with a review of judicial developments since Cigna Corp. v. Amara. The panel will address the impact and practical ramifications of the Amara decision on disclosure claims and the availability of equitable remedies under ERISA.


The Supreme Court's 2011 Cigna Corp. v. Amara ruling addressed the elements of an ERISA disclosure violation claim, including the status of a plan description and proof necessary to prevail. The Court acknowledged the availability of equitable remedies, such as reformation and a monetary surcharge.

Over the past year, many courts have interpreted Amara. Some courts have ruled that any provision in the summary plan description (SPD) that is not also in the plan document cannot be enforced, and others have more narrowly held that SPD provisions cannot be the basis to enforce the terms of the plan.

The Ninth Circuit's 2012 Skinner v. Northrop Grumman Ret. Plan ruling narrowly construed the Court's broad interpretation of equitable remedies available. And, the Court granted cert to a Third Circuit case over when courts can use equitable principles to override contractual reimbursement provisions.

Further, the effect of Amara combined with judicial interpretations of Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Glenn creates questions about what recovery and remedies are available, based on procedural errors in the individual benefits claim process.

Listen as our panel of ERISA legal specialists provides practical approaches based on post-Amara developments on the status of plan descriptions, the level of proof in disclosure claims, and the availability of equitable remedies in ERISA litigation.



  1. Amara holdings
  2. Latest developments on conflicts between plans and descriptions
  3. Latest developments on equitable remedies
  4. Combined impact of Amara and Glenn
  5. Latest developments on burdens of proof for disclosure violations and remedies
  6. Future impact of Amara and its progeny
  7. Litigation strategies as a result of Amara


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What were the significant issues addressed by the Supreme Court in Amara?
  • How have post-Amara cases developed these issues?
  • What are the practical ramifications for the current state of ERISA law on the availability of equitable remedies?
  • What is the significance of the recent grant of cert by the Supreme Court in the Third Circuit decision in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen?
  • How can counsel use the most recent developments in preparing a litigation strategy?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Amanda A. Sonneborn
Amanda A. Sonneborn

Seyfarth Shaw

Ms. Sonneborn has considerable experience in ERISA and employee benefits litigation including defense of claims for...  |  Read More

Ian H. Morrison
Ian H. Morrison

Seyfarth Shaw

He co-chairs the firm's ERISA Litigation Practice Group. His ERISA and employee benefits litigation experience includes...  |  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

Noah G. Lipschultz
Noah G. Lipschultz

Littler Mendelson

He focuses on representing employers in labor and employment matters, including employee benefits litigation arising...  |  Read More

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