If An ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Seeks Individual Recovery (Not Recovery on Behalf of the Plan) Only Equitable Remedies May Be Available

ERISA, through §1132(a)(2), allows an individual to bring a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under 29 U.S.C § 1109.  Section 1109 is read to require that the individual sue in her representative capacity on behalf of the plan.  See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2).  If the claim of breach of fiduciary duty seeks relief for the individual and not the plan, it falls under § 1132(a)(3) and ERISA limits the individual's remedies to equitable relief.  See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3).  Thus an individual cannot obtain for herself monetary recovery for a claim of breach of fiduciary duty.  An exception would be if the equitable relief seeks money belonging to the individual that was wrongfully withheld or obtained by the fiduciary.  See Kenseth v. Dean Health Plan, Inc., 610 F.3d 452, 481-82 (7th Cir. 2010).

In contrast, if an individual makes a claim for benefits, she is entitled to monetary recovery under § 1132(a)(1)(B).