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René E. ThorneBlog Posts

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  • New York Federal District Court Dismisses 401(k) Fee Class Action

    A New York district court recently dismissed, without prejudice, a 401(k) plan participant’s putative class action complaint alleging breaches of fiduciary duty. The plaintiff alleged that the plan fiduciary-defendants breached their duties of prudence and loyalty by failing to properly monitor the plan’s costs. Cunningham v. USI Ins. Servs., LLC, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54392... Continue Reading
    April 18, 2022
  • Supreme Court Vacates Seventh Circuit Decision in Fee Case, But Reiterates Rigorous Pleading Standard Applies

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Hughes v. Northwestern University, No. 19-1401, just one of more than 150 similar class action suits filed around the country in the last few years. The case was brought by retirement plan participants alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties under ERISA relating to recordkeeping and investment fees... Continue Reading
    January 25, 2022
  • Supreme Court Struggles to Apply “Twiqbal” in Retirement Plan Fee Cases

    Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hughes v. Northwestern University, No. 19-1401, just one of about 150 similar class action suits filed around the country in the last few years. The case was brought by retirement plan participants alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties under ERISA relating to recordkeeping and investment fees... Continue Reading
    December 6, 2021
  • Fifth Circuit: Plan Participants Lacked Standing to Bring ERISA Fiduciary Breach Claims

    American Airlines, Inc. and its affiliated credit union recently defeated an appeal challenging a low-yield investment option in the airline’s 401(k) plan when the Fifth Circuit ruled that the plan participants lacked Article III standing to bring their ERISA claims. In 2016, the plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of a putative class of nearly 20,000... Continue Reading
    July 29, 2021
  • Plaintiff Lacks Standing to Challenge Retirement Plan Investment Options and Fees

    On July 16, 2021, the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin dismissed without prejudice four ERISA claims brought by a former employee alleging mismanagement of Infinity’s defined-contribution 401(k) plan. Plaintiff’s two Fair Labor Standards Act claims were not at issue and remain pending. Plaintiff alleged that plan fiduciaries violated their fiduciary duties by... Continue Reading
    July 26, 2021
  • Supreme Court Will Hear Case Challenging Retirement Plan Investment and Recordkeeper Fees

    The Supreme Court recently granted the writ of certiorari requested by Northwestern University retirement plan participants, following the Solicitor General’s plea for the Court to hear the case.  Hughes v. Northwestern Univ., No. 19-1401, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 3583 (July 2, 2021). The certiorari petition phrased the question presented as: “[w]hether allegations that a defined-contribution retirement... Continue Reading
    July 14, 2021
  • Predecessor Employer Defeats Proposed Class Action Challenging Spin Off’s Decision to Cut Benefits

    In Bellon v. PPG Emp. Life & Other Benefits Plan, PPG Industries, Inc. & the PPG Plan Administrator, the Northern District of West Virginia recently addressed whether a predecessor company may be held liable for a decision made by its corporate successor to terminate retiree life insurance coverage and related benefits following spin-off. The retiree... Continue Reading
    July 13, 2021
  • Tenth Circuit Affirms Damages Based on Revenue Credit, and Makes Clear That Arms-Length Service Agreements Without Evidence of A Prior Relationship Are Not Prohibited Transactions

    On appeal following a bench trial of claims brought by a class of participants and beneficiaries of a 401(k) plan, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision of the District of Colorado calculating damages and prejudgment interest, denying injunctive relief, and finding the employer did not engage in a “prohibited transaction” under ERISA Section 406, 29... Continue Reading
    June 21, 2021
  • Second Circuit: Investment Advisor Not Covered by Plaintiff’s Employment Arbitration Agreement

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently concluded that investment advisor Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb must face a proposed class action under ERISA Section 502(a)(2) for breach of fiduciary duty relating to its alleged mismanagement of a profit-sharing plan sponsored by DST Systems, Inc.  Cooper v. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc., No....… Continue Reading
    March 7, 2021
  • Second Circuit: Investment Advisor Not Covered by Plaintiff’s Employment Arbitration Agreement

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently concluded that investment advisor Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb must face a proposed class action under ERISA Section 502(a)(2) for breach of fiduciary duty relating to its alleged mismanagement of a profit-sharing plan sponsored by DST Systems, Inc.  Cooper v. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc., No. 17-2805 (2d... Continue Reading
    March 7, 2021

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