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.
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.”
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.
Over the last few years, all three federal agencies that regulate retirement plans have been focusing on missing participants; advisers have a key role to play when it comes to helping clients ensure compliance.
Previewing two new Fiduciary Focus Toolkit reports that help plan advisers optimize their workflow, Fi360’s product strategy leader pointed to increased interest in fiduciary support among traditionally wealth-focused firms.
Bill Beardsley, head of Retirement Partners at LPL, gives his take on the firm’s decision to close the Worksite Financial Solutions program, and on his plans for lasting growth in the DC retirement space.
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.
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.
When thinking about fiduciary support services and outsourcing, really the important considerations should be about process and time management, more than fiduciary risk transfer.