The new ruling in Barrett vs. Pioneer does little to resolve the fundamental issues at hand, offering some points of victory to both sides and implying a new amended version of the complaint is welcome and likely.
In an open letter asking for more detailed guidance, the ERISA Industry Committee spells out what it says are “examples of missteps” by the DOL, including “issuing letters asserting breaches of fiduciary duty when there is no applicable legal guidance.”
While they won the day, defendants unsuccessfully argued that the Dudenhoeffer pleading standards should be applied not only to prudence claims, but to loyalty claims as well.
The panel concludes that the dispute against the University of Southern California fell outside the scope of the arbitration agreements that the participants signed.
The court’s decision, which leaves room for an amended complaint, is based on questions of timeliness and a lack of standing, rather than on the facts of the relevant compensatory arrangements in place between the defendants.
The dispositive question is not whether the claimants were employees but whether, considering them as employees, they were eligible to participate in an ERISA plan according to the specific terms of the plan under consideration.
The text of the decision includes lengthy discussion of all 14 counts of ERISA fiduciary breaches, and why each is capable of surviving the defendant’s motions to dismiss.
The decision points to mailings and various other disclosures sent by Checksmart to the defendant over the years leading up to this litigation as reasons for applying ERISA’s shorter, three-year statute of limitations period.
What are the rules for locating missing retirement plan participants and what should plan sponsors do when they’re found?
Plans which permit non-safe harbor hardship distributions could theoretically approve a participant’s hardship distribution request for the repayment of student loans, but those relying on the safe harbor cannot.
Commenting on the decision, Segal Consulting says it is “consistent with every other decision handed down in similar cases except for one,” the Southern District of New York Court’s decision in The New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund, which is being appealed.
Ruling in favor of a detailed motion to dismiss filed by defendants, the court cites a long list of precedent-setting cases, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer.
Lubbock National Bank, the ESOP’s trustee, has also agreed to take steps that will ensure it fulfills its fiduciary obligations in the future.
The company is facing lawsuits by a retirement plan participant whose assets were transferred to MetLife as well as by Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin.
Connecticut decided to pass the law after Connecticut teachers regretted investing in certain products without being informed of fees and other charges.
The complaint alleges that at a certain point, the plan lost its church plan status as defined by ERISA and was required to adhere to ERISA funding rules.