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The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - September 2016

Editor's Overview - This month, we have re-published an interview of our colleague Seth Safra discussing the Department of Labor’s final regulation concerning fiduciaries and conflicts of interest. In this interview,...more

District Court Rules on ERISA Liability of Board and ESOP Advisory Committee Members in ESOP Transactions

On Sept. 1, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued its decision in the Antioch employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) fiduciary litigation. The court held that the Antioch Board of Directors...more

District Court Dismisses 401(k) Plan Investment Claims Against Chevron Fiduciaries

A federal district court in California granted defendants’ motion to dismiss claims asserted by Chevron 401(k) plan participants that the plan fiduciaries breached their ERISA fiduciary duties by selecting underperforming...more

Case Note: Court Rules In Favor Of Fidelity And Holds That Float Income Is Not A Plan Asset

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that float income is not a plan asset and therefore is not subject to fiduciary and prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA. The decision was written by former Justice Souter...more

Financial Services Quarterly Report - Second Quarter 2016: Does the Supreme Court’s Dudenhoeffer Decision under ERISA do “More...

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Amgen v. Harris, in which the Court revisited and clarified its 2014 holding in Dudenhoeffer v. Fifth Third Bancorp.2 Both cases concern the application of a...more

Small Plan Faces Excessive Fee Challenge

On May 18, 2016, a lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Minnesota alleging various claims arising out of investment and record keeping fees in an employer’s 401(K) plan. The plaintiffs are seeking for the case...more

The Final DOL Fiduciary Rule—Considerations for Plan Sponsors

The final rule has implications for plan sponsors and may impact certain relationships with service providers. On April 6, after a long (and some might say tortured) process, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a...more

The Department of Labor’s 2016 Final Fiduciary and Conflict of Interest Regulations: The Principal Transactions Exemption

This post continues our examination of the Department of Labor’s suite of final fiduciary and conflict of interest regulations. Our prior posts discussed the newly expanded definition of “investment advice fiduciary” and the...more

401(k) Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries Face an Alarming Number of Stable Value Fund and Other Class Action Lawsuits

In the last several months, plaintiffs have filed multiple class action lawsuits against plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and stable value fund providers. These lawsuits, which have involved 401(k) plans sponsored by large...more

The Brave New Fiduciary World Has Arrived – The DOL Tries to Find a More Ideal Balance in the Final “Investment Advice” Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) on April 6, 2016 released the final version of its “investment advice” regulation and accompanying prohibited transaction exemptions, a highly-anticipated milestone that is the...more

The Department of Labor’s 2016 Final Fiduciary and Conflict of Interest Rule: The Best Interest Contract Exemption

Last month the U.S. Department of Labor published a suite of final regulations governing the fiduciary status of, and prescribing conflict of interest rules that apply to, persons who provide investment advice to...more

The Wait Is Over – the DOL Announces New Rules Impacting Broker Regulation

The Department of Labor recently enacted rules that require financial advisers and brokers handling individual retirement and 401(k) accounts to act in the best interests of their clients. The much-anticipated rules have...more

Recent Lawsuit Demonstrates Continuing Need for Plan Fiduciaries to Document Decision-Making Process

Late last year, another lawsuit was brought on behalf of participants in a 401(k) plan alleging breaches of fiduciary duties resulting from allegedly high plan fees. This type of case is not novel; the law firm that brought...more

“They’re Here!” – Department of Labor Issues Final ERISA Fiduciary and Conflict of Interest Regulations

After receiving and reviewing extensive feedback on its earlier proposals, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued final regulations expanding the definition of a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act...more

Courts Strike Down Church Plan Exemptions for Church-Affiliated Organizations

Until recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and federal courts seemed to agree that a retirement plan established and maintained by a church-affiliated organization generally qualified...more

Private Equity Funds Held Liable for Pension Obligations of a Portfolio Company

District Court: Two Affiliated Funds Formed “Partnership-in-Fact” and Have Controlled Group Liability for Portfolio Company Pension Liabilities - In a closely watched case (the “Sun Capital” case), the U.S. District...more

Private Equity Funds Liable for Withdrawal Liability of Portfolio Company

What you need to know: On March 28, 2016, the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts held, on remand from the First Circuit, that two related private equity funds were jointly and severally liable for...more

Statutory and Contractual Limitations Periods and the Events that Trigger Them: Insight from the Fourth Circuit

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) does not contain a statute of limitations provision, and courts generally apply the most analogous state law statutory limitation. However, some plans fill the void...more

Broker-Dealer Liability: Are the Rules Pertaining to Providing Investment Advice to Retail Customers About to Change?

In the securities industry, broker-dealers play an important and vital role. If the current broker-dealer regulatory environment is not daunting enough already, it is about to get more complicated and costly, from a revenue...more

Supreme Court Emphasizes Heightened Pleading Standard for Stock Drop Cases

On January 25, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a per curiam opinion in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, holding that the Amgen, Inc. employees who filed suit after the value of the employer stock in which they had...more

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies the Scope of ERISA Fiduciary Obligations in Recent Stock Drop Decision

In recent years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have brought numerous ERISA breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits against employers that offer employer stock funds in their 401(k) plans. These lawsuits are typically brought on behalf of...more

The Supreme Court Meant What It Said On Employer Stock Funds

On January 25, 2016, in Amgen, Inc. v. Harris, 2016 WL 280886, the Supreme Court sent a strong message to the lower courts, plaintiffs and ERISA fiduciaries that pleading standards for breach of fiduciary duty prudence claims...more

What Amgen and Tackett Tell Us About ERISA Litigation Trend Lines

Two recent Supreme Court decisions, and a recent Sixth Circuit analysis on remand from the Supreme Court, offer a roadmap of sorts on ERISA litigation. In both decisions, the Supreme Court did away with presumptions, and at...more

Be Careful What You Wish For – Dudenhoeffer May Do “More Harm Than Good” For ERISA “Stock Drop” Plaintiffs

In its June 2014 decision in Dudenhoeffer v. Fifth Third Bank, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declined to recognize a “presumption of prudence” that had favored retirement-plan fiduciaries faced with allegations of...more

Supreme Court’s Amgen Order Confirms That Fifth Third Bancorp’s ERISA Stock-Drop Pleading Standard Has Teeth

In a recent per curiam order granting the plan fiduciaries’ petition for certiorari and reversing the Ninth Circuit, the United States Supreme Court made clear that it expects lower courts to faithfully apply the pleading...more

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