State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law
Book Review of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974: A Political History by James A. Wooten.
Goeres and the many other recent cases like it10 are remarkable after Mertens and Great West, both for the persistence of the ERISA plaintiff's bar in trying to find ways to obtain make-whole relief in egregious cases and for the continued refusal of Congress to amend ERISA to provide adequate make-whole remedies."11 A patently unjust and inefficient legal regime continues to replicate itself again and again. Conduct that clearly constitutes breach of fiduciary duty, negligent plan administration or worse, and which causes significant financial loss, pain and suffering, or other harm often cannot be remedied under ERISA. (And, ERISA's broad preemption provisions preclude relief in the state courts.) 12
How, thirty years after the statute's enactment, did we end up in this situation? This question was one I hoped James Wooten's well-written and thorough political history could help answer. The book does not disappoint, although it leaves the careful reader less than sanguine about the prospects for reforming ERISA. Wooten's political history is extremely valuable for its detail and description of the long process that culminated in ERISA. It offers few clues, however, to how ERISA plaintiffs (like Goeres) might extricate themselves from this present state of affairs.
Insecure Retirement Income, Wrongful Plan Administration and Other Employee Benefits Woes -- Evaluating ERISA at Age Thirty
Buffalo Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/2075