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.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an ERISA plan participant may allege that a plan fiduciary breached the duty of prudence by not properly monitoring the plan’s investment options as long as the alleged breach of the continuing duty occurred within six years of the suit.