Authors: William F. Hanrahan and Lars C. Golumbic

There has been a surprising lack of consensus by the courts regarding whom a participant should sue under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to recover benefits due under terms of a plan. The article reviews the courts’ varying treatment of the subject and proceeds to look at the structure, words, and history of the statute. The article concludes that an employee benefit plan is the only proper party defendant to an ERISA benefits lawsuit.

This article was republished with permission from Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 2006, copyright 2006, Aspen Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information on this or any other Aspen publication, please call 800-638-8437 or visit


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