The Year in ERISA Litigation

As have previous years, 2019 brought major settlements and decisions in retirement-plan focused litigation, including some precedent-setting appellate and Supreme Court decisions.

A big part of PLANADVISER’s editorial mission focuses on helping retirement plan advisers maintain compliance in their practices—an effort which includes providing in-depth analysis of the glut of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation. Collected below are some of our most important litigation stories from 2019, examining key trends, decisions and settlements.

Supreme Court Hears Polarized Arguments in Intel ERISA Case

While not divided across political lines, the parties in Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee view the question of what establishes “actual knowledge” of an alleged fiduciary breach under ERISA very differently. Read more.

Supreme Court Will Not Review Case Regarding Group Annuity in Retirement Plan

The high court’s decision lets stand a ruling that Great-West, as a non-fiduciary party in interest was not liable for alleged ERISA violations. Read more.

ERISA Litigation as Cottage Industry

“The plaintiffs’ lawyer playbook is the same,” says Brian Netter of Mayer Brown. “First, survive a motion to dismiss, and then subject the defendant to a very expensive discovery process. It creates incentive to enter into a sizable settlement.” Read more.  

The Case That Almost Demolished the Retirement Plan Regulatory System

Expert ERISA attorneys have been eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in a case called Kisor v. Wilkie. The complicated ruling is the most significant of the term for the retirement plan audience. Read more.

8th Circuit Sides with Defense in Stock Drop Appeal

The affirmation once again shows how influential has been the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision known as Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer. It also presents an interpretation of how Fifth Third interacts with another significant SCOTUS decision known as Tibble v. Edison. Read more.

SunTrust Bank 401(k) Litigation Heading to Remediation

After years of litigation, the plaintiffs and defendants have jointly moved for entry of an order referring the case to mediation before a neutral third party. Read more.

Full 9th Circuit Okays Panel’s Pro-Arbitration Decision

No judge of the 9th Circuit has requested a vote on a petition for rehearing Dorman vs. Charles Schwab, in which a three-judge panel held ERISA claims may in some cases be forced into arbitration. Read more.

Recordkeeping Fees Under the Microscope

Retirement plans of all sizes are seeing their recordkeeping fee schedules questioned, especially when those fees are expressed as a percentage of assets. Read more.

Retirement Plan Cybersecurity the Issue in a New Lawsuit

A retirement plan participant who had $99,000 stolen from her account has sued the plan sponsor and plan providers. Read more.

Schlichter-Counseled ERISA Plaintiffs Reach $14M Settlement

John Hopkins University will settle a long-standing ERISA lawsuit—one of a number of virtually identical cases filed in district courts across the country by Schlichter, Bogard and Denton. Read more.

Trend of Excessive Fee Suits Against Smaller Plans Continues

When the wave of excessive fee cases began against retirement plan sponsors, most targeted large or mega plans, based on assets. However, a new case against TriHealth Inc. continues a trend of targeting smaller plans. Read more.

Eaton Vance to Pay $3.45 Million to Settle 401(k) Self-Dealing Lawsuit

Nothing in the settlement agreement calls for Eaton Vance to make any changes to its investment menu for the plan. Read more.