In Buckner v. Murray, No. 21-cv-567, 2024 WL 1366785 (D.D.C. Mar. 30, 2024), the court dismissed the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan’s suit to collect $6.5 billion in withdrawal liability because the trustees did not file suit in accordance with the plan’s trust agreement.  After the contributing employer filed for bankruptcy

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but there were no flowers for ERISA plan sponsors and fiduciaries on May 1 when the Second Circuit held, in a ruling that provoked a vigorous dissenting opinion, that an ERISA plan’s arbitration provision was not enforceable because it required the plan participant to forgo his statutory

The Fifth Circuit recently reversed a district court’s dismissal of claims that the fiduciaries of a 401(k) plan breached the duty of prudence under ERISA by offering participants retail share classes instead of cheaper institutional share classes, and causing the plan to pay allegedly excessive recordkeeping fees.  The decision is notable for articulating the level

A federal district court in Massachusetts dismissed ERISA fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction claims against 401(k) plan fiduciaries, ruling that the prohibited transaction claims were time-barred and the fiduciary breach claims—once limited by a settlement agreement in an earlier class action against MassMutual involving similar allegations (“Gordan”)—failed to plausibly state a claim.  The

A California district court recently denied a motion to dismiss claims that the fiduciaries of a 401(k) plan breached their ERISA fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty by selecting underperforming, high-cost investments and causing the plan to pay excessive fees for services.  The decision is notable for illustrating how pleading standards in investment performance and

Defense counsel frequently lament the difficulties of defending 401(k) investment and recordkeeping fee litigation when different judges render conflicting rulings on motions to dismiss seemingly indistinguishable complaints.  Even when the judges purport to apply the same legal standards, the outcomes can differ.  For that reason, we thought it would be interesting to track the decisions

The decision in Bolton v. Inland Fresh Seafood Corp. of America Inc., No. 22-cv-4602 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 5, 2023)should serve as a reminder to all ERISA practitioners that, if litigating in courts of the Eleventh Circuit, participants must exhaust a plan’s claims procedures before commencing a lawsuit—regardless of the type of ERISA claim asserted.

The Second Circuit recently held that in order to state a claim for a prohibited transaction pursuant to ERISA section 406(a)(1)(C), it is not enough to allege that a fiduciary caused the plan to compensate a service provider for its services.  Instead, “the complaint must plausibly allege that the services were unnecessary or involved unreasonable compensation.”  Cunningham v. Cornell Univ., 2023 WL 7504142 (2d Cir. Nov. 14, 2023).  Separately, the Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants in connection with the plaintiffs’ fiduciary breach claims that were premised on allegations of excessive recordkeeping fees, underperforming investment funds, and the defendants’ failure to transition to lower-cost share classes of certain mutual funds.

A federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky has enforced an ESOP’s arbitration clause, sending P.L. Marketing Inc. employees’ breach of fiduciary duty claims on behalf of a putative class to individual arbitration. The case is Merrow et al. v. Horizon Bank et al., No. 2:22-cv-123, 2023 WL 7003231, at *1 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 24, 2023).

Plaintiffs, participants in P.L. Marketing, Inc.’s ESOP, sued the plan’s trustee, Horizon Bank, alleging that Horizon violated ERISA’s fiduciary duties and prohibited transaction rules by causing the ESOP to overpay for company stock. The ESOP plan document included a mandatory arbitration clause as well as a waiver of class arbitration. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing in part that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the claims because they fell within the scope of the ESOP’s arbitration clause.

We have previously blogged on the flurry of class action lawsuits challenging 401(k) plan investments in the BlackRock LifePath Index Target Date Funds. District courts around the country—seven of them in total—have granted motions to dismiss claims by 401(k) plan participants because their copy-cat allegations of underperformance were insufficient to raise a plausible inference of imprudence. That is, until now. Last week, a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Virginia became the first to conclude that the participants’ allegations of imprudence related to the BlackRock Funds were plausible. Trauernicht v. Genworth, No. 22-cv-532, 2023 WL 5961651 (E.D. Va. Sept. 13, 2023).