In an opinion it issued on Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit confronted essentially the exact same facts and issues as are at play in the LaRue case currently pending before the Supreme Court, and effectively entered its own prediction as to how the Supreme Court will rule in LaRue. Tackling the same arguments that were presented to the Supreme Court in LaRue, the Sixth Circuit concluded that individual participants could recover on their own behalf for losses solely to their accounts in the plan, and that breach of fiduciary duty claims under ERISA are not limited to actions brought on behalf of the plan as a whole or for recovery benefiting the entire class of plan participants as a whole. This, of course, is the primary issue presented to the Supreme Court by the LaRue case.
Interestingly, the Sixth Circuit even borrowed and relied upon Justice Breyer’s diamond hypothetical that he posed to the plan’s counsel in LaRue in reaching its ruling in favor of the participants, a hypothetical that clearly caught many lawyers’ fancy after it was offered up by the justice during oral argument.
The decision is Tullis v. UMB Bank, N.A.