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U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. v. McCUTCHEN

Docket No.: 11-1285
Certiorari Granted: Jun 25 2012
Argued: November 27, 2012
Decided: April 16, 2013

Topics:

ERISA, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, attorney fees, equitable relief

PartyNames: US Airways, Inc., in its Capacity as Fiduciary and Plan Administrator of the US Airways, Inc. Employee Benefits Plan v. James E. McCutchen, et al.
Petitioner: US Airways, Inc., in its Capacity as Fiduciary and Plan Administrator of the US Airways, Inc. Employee Benefits Plan
Respondent: James E. McCutchen, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Citation: 663 F.3d 671
Supreme Court Docket

US Airways, Inc., in its Capacity as Fiduciary and Plan Administrator of the US Airways, Inc. Employee Benefits Plan
v.
James E. McCutchen, et al.
Background:

Employee benefit plans often cover a participant's medical bills in the event of injury but require that, if the participant obtains compensation from a third party for that injury, he or she reimburse the plan in full. Under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), plans may enforce these reimbursement provisions in court by seeking "appropriate equitable relief" to enforce "the terms of the plan." 29 U.S.C. ยง 1132(a)(3). Twice in recent years this Court has resolved disputes about how Section 502(a)(3) works in reimbursement actions. In the more recent case, Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc., 547 U.S. 356 (2006), the Court expressly reserved a third question about the provision. The Third Circuit, in its words, has now "squarely" answered "the question that Sereboff left open," Pet. App. 9a, and has done so in a way that, as it acknowledged, splits the circuits.

Question Presented:

Whether the Third Circuit correctly held-in conflict with the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits-that ERISA Section 502(a)(3) authorizes courts to use equitable principles to rewrite contractual language and refuse to order participants to reimburse their plan for benefits paid, even where the plan's terms give it an absolute right to full reimbursement.

U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. v. McCUTCHEN
ORAL ARGUMENT

November 27, 2012

Listen to Oral Argument in U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. v. McCUTCHEN
Holding: VACATED AND REMANDED
Vote: 5-4
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