U.S. Fifth Circuit Holds that Penalty Action for Failure to Provide Plan Documents is Subject to Louisiana’s One-Year Prescriptive Period

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“Babin primarily argues that the ten-year period should apply because his claim is based on a contractual and fiduciary obligation…. But analogizing §1132(c) to a breach of fiduciary duty does not help Babin’s case. Louisiana courts do not apply the ten-year statute of limitations to all breach of fiduciary duty claims. Rather, a breach of fiduciary duty claim is contractual if it arises from the breach of a special obligation between the parties and delictual if it arises from the violation of a general duty.  Accordingly, Louisiana courts treat a fiduciary’s deliberate offenses (like fraud) as personal actions subject to the ten-year prescriptive period and simple negligence as a delictual offense subject to the one-year period.  Babin’s complaint makes clear that he is alleging a delictual claim rather than a contractual one. First, Babin does not allege that Quality Energy violated any specific contractual provision; rather, he alleges that it violated a statutory duty to provide him with plan documents. Thus, the ‘breach’ arises from a general statutory duty, rather than a specific provision in the parties’ contract. Second, Babin does not allege any intentional misconduct…. Even to the extent that a §1132(c) claim resembles a breach of fiduciary duty claim, the one-year prescriptive period for delictual actions would apply because a §1132(c) claim does not require deliberate misconduct.”

The Court declined to consider plaintiff’s tolling argument, as it had not been raised in the District Court.

 

Babin v. Quality Energy Services, No.17-30059, 2017 WL 6374738 (5th Cir. Dec. 14, 2017).

 

 

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