Employer to Pay $500K for Failing to Monitor TPA

July 18, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge has ordered the president of Columbus-based Clark Graphics, Mary Clark, to restore $505,551.46 to the company’s two employee retirement plans.

Additionally, Marcia Dowdell, the president of Pension Retirement Planning who served as administrator for the plans, has been ordered to restore funds to both plans.   

A U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) suit alleged insufficient oversight and mishandling of plan assets resulting in multiple violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Specifically, the suit alleged that Clark Graphics’ owners, Mary Clark, James Clark and Stephen Clark, failed in their fiduciary responsibilities as plan trustees by neglecting to monitor the actions of the plans’ administrator. They also failed to review and reconcile the plans’ trust account statements, review participant distribution calculations and require the administrator to issue participant statements. In addition, Dowdell failed to maintain accurate records for participants in both plans; consequently, some participants have not received the correct retirement benefits.  

“Employers that sponsor retirement plans have a fiduciary duty to monitor plan assets and ensure they are handled appropriately and protected,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. “Contracting with an outside firm to manage those assets does not absolve them of their legal responsibilities.”  

The order requires the restoration of all plan losses for which the defendants are liable plus appropriate interest. Specifically, Mary Clark has been ordered to pay back $142,797.23 to the Clark Graphics Defined Benefit Plan and $362,754.23 to the Clark Graphics Profit Sharing Plan. The judgment also permanently enjoins Mary and James Clark from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA.   

Dowdell has been ordered to restore to the profit sharing plan a total of $425,586.73, less any payments made by other defendants. She also is required to restore $142,797.23, less any payments made by other defendants, to the defined benefit plan. Additionally, Dowdell has been enjoined from serving as a fiduciary or service provider to any ERISA-covered plan in the future. Her company, Pension Retirement Planning, provided third-party record-keeping services to as many as 51 ERISA-covered pension plans during the decade leading up to 2010, when it ceased operations.