Statute of Limitations

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

As we shifted focus last week from a plan’s administrative claims procedures to defending against a claim for benefits in court, we explained how a well-documented administrative record can enhance the chances of getting a case dismissed at the outset without the need for protracted litigation.  This week, we offer three opportunities to further manage

The Seventh Circuit held that a multiemployer pension fund’s withdrawal liability claim was barred by the six-year statute of limitations applicable to claims under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA).  After the employer failed to make several quarterly withdrawal liability payments, the fund declared the employer to be in default, accelerated its withdrawal liability,

The Fifth Circuit held that the statute of limitations for an ERISA § 502(c)(1) claim—a claim for penalties for failure to provide certain documents within thirty days of a written request—was subject to a one-year statute of limitations.  In so holding, the Court borrowed the statute of limitations from the Louisiana Civil Code for claims

The Third Circuit recently held that ERISA administrative appeal denial letters must include plan-imposed time limits for commencing a lawsuit challenging the claim denial, and the failure to provide such notice warranted setting aside the plan’s limitation period.  Mirza v. Ins. Adm’r. of Am., Inc., 2015 WL 5024159 (3d Cir. Aug. 26, 2015). The

ERISA plan fiduciaries charged with responsibility for selecting, monitoring or removing plan investment options should pay close attention to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Tibble v. Edison Intl., 135 S. Ct. 1823 (2015).  In that decision, the Court ruled that ERISA’s duty of prudence involves “a continuing duty to monitor investments and remove imprudent ones.”  Although the Court did not elaborate on what it viewed to be the scope of an ERISA plan fiduciary’s duty to monitor, the plaintiffs’ bar is already seizing on the ruling as a potential basis for asserting new claims based on a failure to monitor prudently plan investments and other plan functions.  Thus, plan fiduciaries are advised to establish a thoughtful and appropriate procedure for monitoring plan investment options, to diligently follow that procedure when monitoring plan investment options, and to make and preserve a written record reflecting that they followed their procedure in every regard.  Taking these steps will put fiduciaries in a favorable position should emboldened plan participants file lawsuits challenging whether fiduciaries fulfilled their duty to monitor plan investment options based on the perceived plaintiff-friendly Tibble ruling.

Plan trustees often look to settle ERISA fiduciary breach claims brought against them as a way to put the past behind them.  Assuming there is enough fiduciary liability insurance coverage available to pay the proposed settlement sum, the trustees may be prepared to put aside their desire to vindicate themselves for a challenged course of conduct, avoid the risks of a horrific outcome that exceeds insurance coverage limits—potentially causing them to use personal assets to satisfy a judgment against them—and move on.  Unfortunately, however, ERISA is structured in a manner that creates obstacles to achieving the goal of “complete peace.”

The Second Circuit recently held (in a summary order) that plan participants’ claims alleging violations of ERISA’s disclosure rules in connection with a cash balance conversion were barred by the statute of limitations.  In so ruling, the Court explained that because the participants’ claims that defendants breached their fiduciary duties by mischaracterizing the new plan’s

A federal district court in Minnesota found that participants in a defined benefit pension plan had standing to assert claims that defendants breached their fiduciary duties by, among other things, shifting to an equities-only investment strategy that resulted in the plan becoming significantly underfunded and thereby increasing the risk of default.