Allocating the Burden of Proving Loss-Causation in Erisa Fiduciary Litigation

Since the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) in 1974, federal courts heard numerous legal challenges from retirement plan members alleging the mishandling of plan funds. With trillions of dollars currently held in retirement plans for beneficiaries, federal courts have struggled to determine which party should bear the burden of proving what was the cause of any loss to the plan. Despite the long-standing split among the Courts of Appeals, the Supreme Court has yet to resolve this issue, leaving plan members and the fiduciaries in a constant struggle to know how the funds are maintained often producing different results depending on where in the country the case is heard.

This Note acknowledges the challenges that courts must face when adjudicating these issues and the competing rationales for and against shifting the burden of proving loss-causation. To resolve this issue, this Note recommends that there be a greater focus by the courts on the history of ERISA’s enactment and its relation to trust law.

* J.D. Candidate 2023, University of Illinois College of Law; B.A., 2017, University of Illinois at Chicago. Thank you to the University of Illinois Law Review staff, members, and editors for all their support and hard work. I would also like to thank Professor Sean Anderson for his invaluable guidance and support throughout the writing process. Any flaws are likely the result of my not following their advice. This Note is dedicated to my friends, family, and my amazing partner, Mariana, for all of their support.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.