ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP, a leading national law firm based in St. Louis, today filed a preliminary settlement approval motion on behalf of Emory University employees and retirees in their suit against the university involving their 403(b) retirement plan. The plaintiffs in the case, filed in August 2016, sued for alleged breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The settlement terms include the creation of a $16.75 million settlement fund for the plaintiffs, as well as substantial non-monetary relief involving changes in the 401(k) plan.
The complaint, Henderson, et al., v. Emory University, et al., was originally filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.
“This settlement includes both financial compensation and very significant additional non-monetary improvements to the plan going forward. It will enable Emory employees and retirees to improve their ability to build their retirement assets for many years to come,” said Jerry Schlichter, founding and managing partner of Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP, attorneys for the plaintiffs.
The case was part of a group of cases filed by Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP which were the first 403(b) cases ever filed against a university alleging excessive fees. Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP also filed the first cases over excessive fees in 401(k) plans.
The complaint alleged that Emory University breached its duties of loyalty and prudence under ERISA by causing plan participants to pay excessive fees for both administrative and investment services in the plan. Emory denied it committed any fiduciary breach in its operation of the plan.
Besides the financial compensation, Emory agreed: to conduct a Request for Proposals for bids on recordkeeping fees; to prohibit the recordkeeper from using confidential information obtained from Emory employees and retirees to market IRA’s, insurance, and wealth management services; to hire an independent consultant to make recommendations regarding plan investments; to inform plan participants of changes in plan structure; and for a three year period during which Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP will monitor compliance.
Based in St. Louis, MO, Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP pioneered excessive fee 401(k) and 403(b) litigation on behalf of employees and retirees, being the first law firm in the country to bring such cases. In 2009, the firm won the first full trial of a 401(k) excessive fee case against ABB for its employees and retirees. The firm handled Tibble v. Edison, which is the first and only 401(k) excessive fee case to be argued before the Supreme Court. In that case, on May 18, 2015, the firm won a landmark unanimous 9-0 decision in which both the AARP and the Solicitor General wrote supporting briefs for the employees.
Jerry Schlichter and his firm have been referred to by federal judges as “preeminent” in the field of 401(k) fee litigation; as demonstrating “extraordinary skill and determination;” as making “a significant, national contribution,” having “educated plan administrators, the Department of Labor, [and] the courts” about fees and fiduciary obligations; and has been referred to by federal judges as a “private attorney general,” and having had a “humongous effect” in causing fees to come down by over $2 billion annually in the entire 401(k) industry.
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