It is important to note that neither the Fourth Circuit nor the Supreme Court has dealt directly with a case with this fact pattern, but additional support for this conclusion can be found in Fourth Circuit dicta. The court in Cohen wrote that the plaintiff’s claim for reimbursement of overpaid disability insurance “is arguably unauthorized under § 1132(a)(3),” because the Supreme Court in Great-West “denied a fiduciary’s restitution claim against a beneficiary when the property sought could no longer be traced to a particular fund or property, because the fiduciary [was] seeking a legal remedy—the imposition of personal liability on the beneficiary to pay a sum of money owed to the plan—outside the equitable relief afforded to fiduciaries in civil actions under § 502(a)(3).”
Food Emplrs. Labor Relations Ass’n & United Food & Commer. Workers Health & Welfare Fund v. Dove, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159773 (D. Md. Nov. 12, 2014) (Magistrate Judge Report and Recommendation)
This is a case where a multiemployer plan sued to recover medical expenses paid in error. The Defendant, originally a full time employee, had added coverage for his wife as his dependent.
Later, the Defendant became a part time covered employee, requiring that he pay an additional premium to maintain his wife’s coverage. He did not. Nonetheless, his wife incurred medical expenses which the Fund paid.
The magistrate judge began with the observation that ”equitable relief” under ERISA is constrained to “the kinds of relief ‘typically available in equity’ in the days of ‘the divided bench’ before law and equity merged.” U.S. Airways, Inc v. McCutchen, 569 U.S. (slip op., at 5), 133 S. Ct. 1537, 1544, 185 L. Ed. 2d 654 (2013). Nonetheless, the Fourth Circuit created a “common law remedy of unjust enrichment” within ERISA. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Waller, 906 F.2d 985, 994 (4th Cir. 1990).