Lawyer: Excessive Fee Suits Not an Organized Anti-Plan Campaign

September 20, 2006 ( - St. Louis attorney Jerome Schlichter, whose law firm recently filed seven federal court lawsuits alleging that 401(k) plans fees were excessive, does not want to be seen as the leader of a campaign against plan sponsors over the issue.

Schlichter asserted in an interview with that the suits, filed in  Illinois, Missouri and California, by Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, were the results of investigations into the specifics of each plan. “No one should read any conclusion into that,” Schlichter declared.

He said there were similarities in the allegations leveled in each complaint. Schlichter refused to estimate a dollar amount of how much in excess fees were being charged by the plans.  

The lawsuits include:

  • Beesley et al v. International Paper Co., S.D. Ill. No. 3:06cv703
  • Kanawi v. Bechtel Corp., N.D.  Cal. No. 3:06cv5566
  • Loomis v. Exelon Corp., N.D.  Ill. No. 1:06cv4900
  • Martin v. Caterpillar, Inc., W.D. Mo. No. 2:06cv4208
  • Taylor   v. United Technologies Corp., N.D. Ill. No. 1:06cv4895
  • Waldbuesser v. Northrop Grumman Corp., N.D.  Ill. No. 1:06cv4897
  • Will v. General Dynamics Corp., S.D.  Ill. No. 3:06cv698

In the lawsuit filed against International Paper Company (IPC), Schlichter’s firm argued that either directly to providers or through IPC’s master trust, the company pays both direct fees and also makes additional payments in the form of a revenue sharing arrangement.

According to the IPC suit, IPC participants are not being told:

  • how much they are paying in fees and expenses,
  • who is getting revenue sharing payments,
  • how much providers are getting in addition to their disclosed direct payments, and
  • whether the total amount paid to providers is reasonable and incurred only to benefit participants.

Because of the system of direct and indirect payments, the Schlichter suit alleged, “[P]articipants of the (IPC) Plans are forced to pay from their retirement savings, excessive and unreasonable fees and expenses that are not incurred solely for their benefit.”

The IPC complaint is here .