Law Firms File ERISA Class Action against Lutheran Publishers

A pair of litigators has teamed up to bring an ERISA class action suit against the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Specifically, the law firms of Keller Rohrback L.L.P. and Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. announced Friday that they have filed an ERISA class action complaint on behalf of a class of all persons who were participants in or beneficiaries of the Retirement Plan for Employees of Augsburg Fortress Publishers, Publishing House of the ELCA, from January 1, 2000 to the present.

According a press release issued by the firms, recently Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which does business as Augsburg Fortress Publisher, announced that it was terminating the plan and that the plan had been underfunded for nine years.  “Plaintiffs allege that the Plan is not a “church plan” exempted from ERISA and therefore the participants in the Plan should have the same protections ERISA extends to plan participants generally,” the companies said.

The complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, alleges that during the class period, defendants breached their duties under ERISA, or alternatively under state law, by among other things:

(1) failing to adequately fund the plan;

(2) failing to prudently and loyally manage the plan’s assets;

(3) failing to disclose necessary information to co-fiduciaries and participants; and

(4) breaching their contractual and trust-law duties to the participants.