Q: Can Fourth Circuit plaintiffs be granted “surcharge” as a remedy for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA?
A: Not anymore. In a divided-panel opinion issued Tuesday, September 12, in Rose v. PSA Airlines, Inc., 2023 WL 5839282, — F.4th — (2023), the Fourth Circuit narrowed the scope of remedies available to plaintiffs in ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims in this circuit. In short, the Fourth Circuit held that “surcharge” is not an available remedy. Instead, monetary recovery under 502(a)(3) is only available when a plaintiff points to specific funds that the plaintiff rightfully owned but that the defendant possesses as a result of unjust enrichment. This is a reversal of prior Fourth Circuit decisions, which had previously authorized recovery of surcharge as a form of “appropriate equitable relief” under § 502(a)(3).