SCOTUS Says No Presumption of Prudence In ERISA Stock Drop Cases

Earlier today, in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to adopt the so-called Moench presumption of prudence pursuant to which many circuit courts had dismissed ERISA stock drop claims unless plan participants had pled allegations that the company’s economic situation was dire or the company was on the brink of collapse. The Court, however, made it clear that, to withstand a motion to dismiss, a participant would have to plead facts and circumstances that could plausibly lead to the conclusion that the plan fiduciaries acted imprudently, taking into account the unique circumstances presented by ESOPs. The Court stated that, absent “special circumstances,” allegations that plan fiduciaries should have recognized from publicly available information that a company stock fund was under- or overvalued are “implausible as a general rule.” Where a claim of imprudence is premised on nonpublic information, “a plaintiff must plausibly allege an alternative action that the defendant could have taken that would have been consistent with the securities laws and that a prudent fiduciary in the same circumstances would not have viewed as more likely to harm the fund than to help it.”

Watch for our in-depth analysis of the Court’s decision, and tune into Proskauer’s Webinar tomorrow, June 26, 2014, to hear our views on the decision and its implications for plan sponsors and fiduciaries. Please follow these steps to register for the webinar or webinars you would like to attend:

  • Go to:
  • If you are a first time user, create a new account by clicking the “New User Registration” button and completing the New User Registration fields. The Company Pass Code is 9736529. If you are a returning user, login with your existing account information.
  • Click the “Submit” button.
  • This will bring you to the Catalog page.
  • Click the “Enroll” button for the session titled: Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer – An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Decision


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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