Mertens v. Hewitt Associates, 508 U.S. 248, 12 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

with the PBGC, see 1303(e)(1), 1451(a)(1).9 Neither option is acceptable. See Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Co., 505 U. S. 469, 479 (1992); cf. Lorillard v. Pons, 434 U. S. 575, 583 (1978). The authority of courts to develop a "federal common law" under ERISA, see Firestone, 489 U. S., at 110, is not the authority to revise the text of the statute.

Petitioners point to ERISA 502(l), which was added to the statute in 1989, see Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (OBRA), Pub. L. 101-239, 2101, 103 Stat. 2123, and provides as follows:

"(1) In the case of—

"(A) any breach of fiduciary responsibility under (or other violation of) part 4 by a fiduciary, or

"(B) any knowing participation in such a breach or violation by any other person, "the Secretary shall assess a civil penalty against such fiduciary or other person in an amount equal to 20 percent of the applicable recovery amount." 29 U. S. C. 1132(l)(1) (1988 ed., Supp. III).

9 The dissent postulates that Congress used the "legal or equitable relief" language only where the cause of action it was authorizing lacked "any discernible analogue in the common law of trusts," as a means of indicating that the courts are "free to craft whatever relief is most appropriate." Post, at 268-269. That is demonstrably not so. Administrative accounting requirements like the ones enforced through 29 U. S. C. 1024(a)(5)(C) (which uses the "legal or equitable" formulation) were not unheard-of before ERISA, see 2A Scott & Fratcher 172, p. 456, and they have an "analogue" in the basic duty of trustees to keep and render accounts upon demand by the beneficiary, see id., 172; Bogert & Bogert 861, pp. 7-9. Moreover, in a 1986 amendment to the subchapter dealing with the PBGC, Congress created a cause of action to enforce the provisions governing termination of single-employer plans, using the same "other appropriate equitable relief" language as appears in 502(a)(3). See 29 U. S. C. 1370(a)(2). That cause of action no more reflects some common-law "analogue" than do those created by the other PBGC provisions referred to in text (which employ the "legal or equitable" formulation).


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