Judge Blasts Principal Fee Suit Plaintiff Lawyers in Appeal Delay

A federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against the Principal Financial Group over its 401(k) revenue sharing arrangements has cleared the way for the case to be moved to Iowa after plaintiff’s lawyers never mounted the appeal they had promised.

Bemoaning the “inordinate delay” in plaintiff’s lawyers asking for a review before a federal appellate court, U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois this week lifted his earlier stay of the Illinois-to-Iowa case transfer (See Principal Suit Transfer Order Postponed).

“The (appeal) proposal seems to the Court illusory and now clearly a dilatory tactic,” Herndon complained in his later order lifting the transfer stay, charging that lawyers for Plaintiff Joseph Ruppert never explained to him why the appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had not yet been filed.

Ruppert, vice president of Fairmount Park Inc., which runs the Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Illinois near St. Louis, alleged in the suit that Principal’s revenue sharing practices violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Ruppert acts as trustee for his company’s 401(k) plan (See Plan Sponsor Sues Principal over 401(k) Fund Revenue Sharing).

Herndon’s instructions to transfer further proceedings to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines came at the request of lawyers for the Des Moines-based Principal after they argued that it was unfair to force the financial services firm to litigate the case in an Illinois federal courtroom.