NY Life Employees Given Go-Ahead in Class-Action Suit

November 8, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An employee suit brought against New York Life Insurance Co. has been granted class-action status by a district court judge.

The suit, which involves 50,000 workers, charges that the insurance company used workers’ pension and 401(k) funds as capital to get a new line of mutual funds, MainStay Institutional Funds, off the ground.

The suit further charges that the insurance company levied excessive fees and failed to protect employees’ assets when the funds underperformed.

James Mehling, the lead plaintiff, also claims that New York Life officials fired him in March 1999 because they feared he tell what he knew about the situation..

New York Life denies wrongdoing in its handling of the funds and notes that the pension fund now boasts a $900 million surplus, in line with industry averages, in comparison to $25 million a decade ago.

US District Judge Bruce Kauffman withheld judgment on the merits of the case, but ruled that it would be impossible to hear each case individually due to the large number of former and current New York Life employees.

Plaintiffs are seeking at least $200 million.

– Camilla Klein                           editors@plansponsor.com