ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, a leading national law firm in St. Louis, announced today that it reached a $27.5 settlement on behalf of Ameriprise employees and retirees in the 401(k) excessive fee case, Krueger v. Ameriprise Financial.
The settlement also includes an important range of non-monetary relief provisions to ensure compliance with the settlement and enhance the 401(k) plan for the benefit of Ameriprise employees and retirees.
“We are pleased to have achieved this settlement for the employees and retirees of Ameriprise Financial,” said Jerry Schlichter, Managing Partner at Schlichter, Bogard & Denton. “The non-monetary relief obtained, in addition to the financial terms, not only significantly benefits Ameriprise’s employees and retirees but also sets a standard for best practices for plan sponsors. Competitive bids and enhanced communications and disclosure will increase the value of the employees’ and retirees’ 401(k) plans for years to come.”
A joint motion for approval of the settlement was filed today by the parties in the Court of Judge Susan Richard Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, who must approve the settlement.
In a complaint originally filed on September 28, 2011, the plaintiffs alleged that Ameriprise breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Plaintiffs alleged that Ameriprise failed to ensure that the recordkeeping and management fees and expenses paid out of the assets in the plan were reasonable. They alleged that the plan’s fiduciaries breached their duties of prudence and loyalty in selecting and retaining proprietary investment options. Further, it was alleged they engaged in prohibited transactions by receiving compensation from the plan as a result of those decisions in order to benefit its subsidiary Columbia Management Investment Advisers, LLC.
Ameriprise denied all of the allegations, contended that fees were reasonable and contended it complied in all respects with the law and did not commit any fiduciary breaches.
In the settlement, Ameriprise has agreed to terms designed to strengthen and add value to its 401(k) plan as part of the non-monetary relief. The settlement period will be three years during which the Court will retain jurisdiction.
First, within one year of the effective settlement date, Ameriprise has agreed to conduct a RFP competitive bidding process for recordkeeping and investment consulting services.
Second, Ameriprise will refrain from receiving compensation for administrative services provided to the plan other than reimbursement of direct expenses from the plan as permitted by ERISA.
Third, Ameriprise will pay fees to the plan recordkeeper on a flat fee or fee per participant basis.
Fourth, Ameriprise will provide participant statements that comply with all applicable Department of Labor participant disclosure regulations that include: a disclosure of all plan expenses paid by the participant (directly or through investment options); a list of all transaction fees paid by the participant; benchmarks for each fund; and statements, in dollar terms, of the money paid by the participant in administrative recordkeeping costs and for each investment option.
Ameriprise will also consider the use of collective investment trusts or separately managed accounts and will seek the lowest cost of participation for any collective trusts used.
Finally, the plan’s fiduciary committee for investment selection will not include any member who is an executive of Columbia Management Investment Advisers, LLC or its investment management affiliates.
An estimated 24,000 current and former Ameriprise employees will benefit from the settlement.
About Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, LLP
Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, LLP, of St. Louis is a national law firm that represents individuals, including victims of financial abuse and 401(k) plan investors, whose plans suffer from excessive fees or imprudent investment options. It currently is representing employees of Edison International, Massachusetts Mutual, Northrop Grumman, and others in claims of excessive fees in 401(k) plans. Its attorneys are dedicated to helping financial abuse victims, and helping employees and retirees secure the retirement benefits they deserve.
More information can be found at: www.uselaws.com or call (314) 621-6115.