ERISA Equitable Remedies After McCutchen and Amara

Navigating the Scope of Appropriate Equitable Relief and Plan Claims for Subrogation and Reimbursement

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

Conducted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will discuss the Supreme Court’s McCutchen decision and the development in equitable remedies since Amara , the impact of McCutchen on the scope of “appropriate equitable relief,” ramifications for plan claims for reimbursement and subrogation, and best practices for evaluating equitable relief claims.


The Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen resolved a circuit split on whether equitable defenses can override plan provisions limiting remedies in a fiduciary’s suit under §502(a)(3) for "appropriate equitable relief." The Court held that equitable defenses cannot trump clear plan provisions.

At issue was a fiduciary’s attempt to enforce a provision requiring a participant to reimburse the plan for medical expenses that the participant later recovered in a lawsuit over the accident that led to the expenses. The Court concluded that plan language controls only insofar as the matter is addressed.

The ruling underscores the importance of carefully drafted ERISA plan language because equitable defenses to subrogation can be specifically precluded. On the other hand, McCutchen gives courts authority to apply equitable principles to fill in gaps to ascertain what the parties actually or could have intended.

Listen as our authoritative panel of ERISA practitioners discusses the Supreme Court’s McCutchen decision, the impact of the ruling on the scope of “appropriate equitable relief,” particularly in light of Amara, ramifications for plan claims for reimbursement and subrogation, and best practices for equitable relief claims in post-McCutchen and Amara.



  1. Equitable remedies: Amara and circuit court rulings
  2. Supreme Court’s McCutchen ruling
  3. Impact of McCutchen on the scope of appropriate equitable relief
  4. Impact on plan claims for reimbursement and subrogation
  5. Best practices for handling claims for equitable relief


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How does McCutchen interplay with Amara on “appropriate equitable relief” under section 502(a)(3)?
  • What is the immediate significance of the McCutchen decision on plan provisions for reimbursement and subrogation?
  • What is the impact of the McCutchen ruling for plan claims outside of reimbursement and subrogation?
  • What are best practices for handling claims for equitable relief after Amara and McCutchen?

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


Terry Connerton
Terry Connerton

Metz Lewis Brodman Must O'Keefe

She counsels executives of businesses and tax-exempt entities on how to comply with tax and labor laws governing...  |  Read More

Patrick W. Begos
Patrick W. Begos

Begos Brown & Green

He is a founding member of the firm and heads the ERISA and Contract Disputes groups. He brings more than 20 years of...  |  Read More

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