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succumbed to this temptation, that he acted in bad faith, that he gained an advantage, fair or unfair, that the beneficiary was harmed. Indeed, the law presumes that the fiduciary acted disloyally, and inquiry into such matters is foreclosed. The rule is not intended to compensate the beneficiary for any loss he may have sustained or to deprive the fiduciary of any unjust enrichment. Its sole purpose is prophylactic . . .

In other words, one reason for limiting the deference when the fiduciary suffers a conflict of interest is to discourage arrangements where a conflict arises."

Brown, 898 F.2d at 1565 (citations omitted).

Delta’s conflict of interest is apparent from the manner in which it interpreted the

Plan. When interpreting the terms of the Plan, Delta, as an ERISA fiduciary, is required

to “discharge his duties with respect to a plan solely in the interest of the participants and

beneficiaries29” with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then

prevailing that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters

would use in the conduct of an enterprise of like character and with like aims30.” To

determine whether an interpretation is proper, the first step is to look at the express

language contained in the plan.

“A key principle guiding our resolution of the Retirees’ claim is that we must look to the plain language of the [ ] plan to determine whether the Trustees’ interpretation of that plan is ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ We have consistently explained that ‘trustees abuse their discretion if they . . . construe provisions of [a] plan in a way that clearly conflicts with the plain language of the plan.’”

Canseco v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust, 93 F.3d 600, 606 (9th Cir. 1996)(citations ommitted).


29 U.S.C. § 1104 (a)(1).


29 U.C.C. § 1104 (a)(1)(B).


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