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Moyle v. Liberty Mut. Ret. Benefit Plan

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

October 19, 2015, Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California; August 18, 2016, Amended

Nos. 13-56330, 13-56412



 [*952] PREGERSON, Circuit Judge:

Appellants are former employees of Old Golden Eagle Insurance Company ("Golden Eagle"). Golden Eagle did not offer a retirement plan to its employees. When Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual") purchased Golden Eagle through a conservatorship sale, Appellants became employees of Liberty Mutual. Appellants state that while the sale was underway, Liberty Mutual told Appellants that they would receive past service credit for the time they worked with Golden Eagle under Liberty Mutual's retirement plan. But, after Liberty Mutual purchased Golden Eagle, Liberty Mutual denied Appellants' claims for past service credit. Liberty Mutual argues that it never made any representation to Appellants that they would receive [**4]  past service credit for their time with Golden Eagle. Liberty Mutual also argues that under the terms of the retirement plan, Appellants are entitled only to past service credit for purposes of eligibility, vesting, early retirement, and spousal benefits, and not for retirement benefits accrual.

Appellants filed this class action against Liberty Mutual for violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). At the district court, Appellants asserted four claims for relief: (1) Appellants are entitled to past service credit under the terms of the retirement plan, under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B); (2) Appellants are entitled to equitable relief under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3); (3) Liberty Mutual violated its duty to provide Appellants with documents relevant to their claim; and (4) Liberty Mutual violated its duty to disclose information about past service retirement credit in its Summary Plan Descriptions. Appellants seek the equitable remedies of reformation and surcharge for both claims (2) and (4).

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Liberty Mutual on all four claims. Appellants appealed on claims (1), (2), and (4). Liberty Mutual cross-appealed, alleging that Appellants' suit is time-barred and that [**5]  class certification was improper.

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823 F.3d 948 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15202 **

GEOFFREY MOYLE, an individual, on behalf of themselves; PAULINE ARWOOD, an individual, on behalf of themselves; THOMAS ROLLASON, an individual, on behalf of themselves; JEANNIE SANDERS, an individual, on behalf of themselves, Plaintiffs-Appellants/ Cross-Appellees, v. LIBERTY MUTUAL RETIREMENT BENEFIT PLAN; LIBERTY MUTUAL RETIREMENT PLAN RETIREMENT BOARD; LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a Massachusetts company; LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE GROUP INC., a Massachusetts company, Defendants-Appellees/ Cross-Appellants.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. D.C. No. 3:10-cv-02179-GPC-MDD. Gonzalo P. Curiel, District Judge, Presiding.

Moyle v. Liberty Mut. Ret. Ben. Plan, 823 F.3d 948, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9251 (9th Cir. Cal., May 20, 2016)

Disposition: AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part; REMANDED. Each side to bear its own costs.


benefits, retirement plan, employees, past services, district court, accrual, class certification, eligibility, reformation, terms, equitable remedy, fiduciary, equitable relief, cases, bid, vesting, conflicting interest, summary judgment, meetings, retirement benefits, terms of the plan, early retirement, Affiliated, enrollment, employment service, seek relief, representations, provisions, violations, surcharge

Pensions & Benefits Law, Civil Litigation, Causes of Action, Suits to Recover Plan Benefits, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Conflict of Interest Analysis, De Novo Standard of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Remedies, Equitable Relief, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Disclosure, Notice & Reporting, Required Reports, Summary Plan Descriptions, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Appellate Review, Prerequisites for Class Action, Prerequisites for Class Action, Commonality, Typicality