Mertens v. Hewitt Associates, 508 U.S. 248, 6 (1993)

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Cite as: 508 U. S. 248 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

allows the Secretary of Labor or any plan beneficiary, participant, or fiduciary to bring a civil action "for appropriate relief under section [409]."

The above described provisions are, however, limited by their terms to fiduciaries. The Court of Appeals decided that respondent was not a fiduciary, see 948 F. 2d, at 610, and petitioners do not contest that holding. Lacking equivalent provisions specifying nonfiduciaries as potential defendants, or damages as a remedy available against them, petitioners have turned to 502(a)(3), 29 U. S. C. 1132(a)(3), which authorizes a plan beneficiary, participant, or fiduciary to bring a civil action:

"(A) to enjoin any act or practice which violates any provision of [ERISA] or the terms of the plan, or (B) to obtain other appropriate equitable relief (i) to redress such violations or (ii) to enforce any provisions of [ERISA] or the terms of the plan . . . ."

See also 502(a)(5), 29 U. S. C. 1132(a)(5) (providing, in similar language, for civil suits by the Secretary based upon violation of ERISA provisions). Petitioners contend that requiring respondent to make the Kaiser plan whole for the losses resulting from its alleged knowing participation in the breach of fiduciary duty by the Kaiser plan's fiduciaries would constitute "other appropriate equitable relief" within the meaning of 502(a)(3).

We note at the outset that it is far from clear that, even if this provision does make money damages available, it makes them available for the actions at issue here. It does not, after all, authorize "appropriate equitable relief" at large, but only "appropriate equitable relief" for the purpose of "redress[ing any] violations or . . . enforc[ing] any provisions" of ERISA or an ERISA plan. No one suggests that any term of the Kaiser plan has been violated, nor would any be enforced by the requested judgment. And while ERISA contains various provisions that can be read as imposing obli-


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