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Copyright (c) 1986 Duke Law Journal
Duke Law Journal

NOTE: INTERPRETING ERISA: CORPORATE OFFICER LIABILITY FOR DELINQUENT CONTRIBUTIONS.

September, 1986

1986 Duke L.J. 710

Author

SCOTT A. CAMMARN

Excerpt

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) 1 comprehensively regulates private employee pension plans and almost completely preempts the field of private employee pension plan regulation. 2 Section 515 of ERISA, 3 entitled "delinquent contributions," imposes a duty on "employers" to make all necessary contributions to multiemployer pension plans in accordance with plan agreements or collective bargaining agreements. 4 Section 502 allows a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary of the plan to bring civil enforcement actions against the plan or the "employer." 5

In defining "employer" under section 515, courts have reached different results. Some courts have allowed employees to bring actions against either the funding corporation or one of its corporate officers. 6 Other courts have refused to define "employer" as broadly and have held corporate officers personally liable only in cases in which the facts warrant a piercing of the corporate veil. 7

This note first discusses these two competing interpretations of section 515. 8 It then examines the text of sections 502 and 515, their legislative history, their purpose, and the relationship between them and ERISA's other provisions. The note concludes that courts should not consider a corporate officer an "employer" under sections 502 and 515 and therefore should not hold the officer personally liable for delinquent contributions unless the circumstances warrant a piercing of the corporate veil. 9 The note also discusses other situations in which courts can hold an officer personally liable for violations of ERISA. 10

I. ...
 
 
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