ERISA Lawsuits and Decisions that Defined 2019

The year delivered major settlements and decisions in retirement-plan focused lawsuits, including some precedent-setting appellate and Supreme Court rulings.

A big part of PLANSPONSOR’s editorial mission focuses on helping retirement plan advisers maintain compliance in their practices—an effort which includes providing in-depth analysis of the glut of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation.

Collected below are some of our most important articles from 2019 about key decisions and settlements in such lawsuits.

Intel Case Parties Present Different Sides About ‘Actual Knowledge’ to Supreme Court

There was substantial discussion of Intel’s argument about how the statute of limitations provision read when ERISA was originally written. Read more.

Supreme Court Denies Review of Case About Annuity Contracts in Retirement Plans

The plaintiff said Great-West’s conduct in setting the credited rate of its Key Guaranteed Portfolio Fund violates ERISA’s clear rules barring parties in interest from using plan assets to benefit themselves. Read more. Read more.

Supreme Court Rules in Case With Major Implications for Retirement Plans

The case concerns the issue of how much courts should defer to agency (such as IRS or Department of Labor) interpretations of regulations. Read more.

Appeals Court Again Cites Dudenhoeffer in Rejecting Stock Drop Suit

The decision out of the 8th Circuit ties together the influential Supreme Court decisions known as Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer and Tibble v. Edison. Read more.

Mediation May Resolve SunTrust Bank ERISA Challenge

The parties have requested that the district court stay all proceedings and deadlines pending the outcome of a mutually agreed upon mediation process. Read more.

Full 9th Circuit Passes on Review of Schwab Arbitration Ruling

Experts wondered whether the full 9th Circuit would reconsider a potentially influential pro-arbitration ruling issued recently by a three-judge panel. Now, it appears the full court has passed on conducting such a review. Read more.

Retirement Plan Sponsors Need Strong Cybersecurity Defenses

A plan sponsor could face legal liability if a breach or fraud of participant accounts occurs. Read more.

Settlement in Johns Hopkins 403(b) Plan Lawsuit Includes Recordkeeper Bid

The $14 million settlement agreement also requires the University to retain an independent consultant to assist plan fiduciaries in reviewing the plan’s existing investment structure. Read more.

Retirement Plan Excessive Fee Cases Continue to Move Down-Market

TriHealth Inc. has been accused of carrying high fees in its 401(k) plan, benchmarked against peer plans with an asset range of $250 million to $500 million. Read more.

Vanderbilt 403(b) Decision Marks Emerging Data Issues for Fiduciaries

Under the terms of a recently revealed settlement agreement, Vanderbilt 403(b) plan fiduciaries will have to contractually prohibit recordkeepers and other service providers from using plan participant data for the purposes of cross-selling. Read more.

UPenn Seeks Supreme Court Voice in University Retirement Plan Lawsuits

The university says the high court should re-establish the pleading standard it previously set, as well as issue a decision to stop the pressure to settle cases against university retirement plans. Read more.

$18.1M MIT Fiduciary Breach Lawsuit Settlement Includes RFP Process

Among the non-monetary elements of the settlement is a requirement to conduct a recordkeeping RFP process that will result in a per-participant fee structure. Read more.

Court Finds Private Equity Funds Not Liable for Plan Withdrawal Liability

An appellate court found a partnership test set forth in a previous case had not been met between the private equity funds and a member of a multiemployer pension plan. Read more.