Supreme Court Upholds ERISA Damages Ruling

March 19, 2002 ( - The US Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court ruling that a 401(k) participant can't sue his company's plan administrator for not rolling over his plan assets into a specified mutual fund.

According to a Bureau of National Affairs report, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in October 2001 that it wasn’t appropriate in a lawsuit under ERISA to ask for damages equal to what he would have earned had the money been rolled over as specified.

The participant’s ERISA claim wasn’t appropriate because it was an action for money damages, not restitution, appeals judges ruled.

The participant’s classification of his action as one for restitution with reference to his losses rather than the plan administrator’s gains was the “hallmark of money damages,” the appeals court said.

The case is Helfrich v PNC Bank Kentucky Inc.