An interim ruling in the fiduciary breach case of Barrett vs. Pioneer Natural Resources, in which elements of the defendants’ motion to oppose class certification failed at the same time the lead plaintiff failed to prove standing, highlights the complex nature of retirement plan lawsuits.
The letter also asks that until guidance is provided, for the DOL to stop issuing letters that allege an employer has committed a breach of fiduciary duty with respect to the practices utilized to locate missing retirement plan participants.
In this case, the alleged knowledge of an artificially high stock price was rooted in the fact that the company had not disclosed that employees of its foreign subsidiaries had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1997 by paying bribes to foreign government officials.
Given a second chance to argue their case, participants in a Wells Fargo retirement plan have again failed to meet the steep pleading standards set out by the influential Supreme Court decision known as Fifth Third vs. Dudenhoeffer.
The panel concludes that the dispute against the University of Southern California fell outside the scope of the arbitration agreements that the participants signed.
The decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is short and to the point, stretching just 15 pages and ruling only weakly in favor of the AT&T defendants’ motion to dismiss by allowing room for an amended complaint.
With the judicial defeat of the Obama-era DOL fiduciary rule hanging in the air, individual states are moving to establish their own best interest regulations for the sale and service of investment products; attorneys warn that more piecemeal regulation is likely, as are lawsuits to test some complex ERISA preemption issues.
“ERISA’s limitations on who employers can exclude from ERISA plans are very narrow,” the decision states. “The law prohibits an employer from denying participation in an ERISA plan on the basis of age or length of service. Other than that, any bases for exclusion from a plan are permissible.”
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are participants and beneficiaries of the Rainbow Disposal Co., Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, who seek to restore losses to the plan and to otherwise remedy a complicated series of alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.
After siding with defendants and applying the shorter of two potential limitations periods, the district court decision states clearly that plaintiff’s claims are foreclosed by ERISA's three-year statute of limitations; the detailed decision tackles head-on a complex set of precedent-setting cases, including Tibble vs. Edison.
The case arose from Manhattan Ford’s withdrawal from the UAW Local 259 Pension Fund, and an arbitrator’s calculation of about $2.55 million in withdrawal liability for the employer.
Under the paradigm created by the Supreme Court’s ruling in a case known as Fifth-Third v. Dudenhoeffer, plaintiffs continue to have difficulty proving standing in ERISA stock drop cases.
The settlement agreement resolves a civil suit brought by the DOL, alleging Cactus Feeders Inc. ESOP fiduciaries failed to fulfill their obligations under ERISA during a December 2010 stock transaction.
According to the text of the complaint, the action seeks to hold MetLife accountable for the company’s conversion of more than $500 million in annuitized retirement benefits, interest, and unlawful profits over the last 25 years. State regulatory authorities in Massachusetts are also getting involved.
According to the compliant, the defined benefit (DB) plan was required to adhere to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) funding rules.
While the deadline had already technically passed for the DOL to appeal the circuit court ruling vacating its fiduciary rule reforms, this highly anticipated move by the court is truly the end of an era.