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By Heather Mehta on August 21, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Two wooden people on either side of a table, representing arbitrationA U.S. Court of Appeals determined that arbitration on an individual basis is the proper forum for a participant’s claim that Charles Schwab breached its fiduciary duties and engaged in prohibited transaction under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by holding proprietary funds in its 401(k) plan.

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By Jeffrey Herman on April 2, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Group of figures surrounded by a stethoscopeThe battle over health benefits rages on. In the latest salvo, a group of states scored a major court victory against the Trump administration’s new “Association Health Plan” Final Rule, which was finalized in 2018. While this decision will have major ramifications, it is important to remember that association health plans may still be established under old rules that existed long before the final rule.

The case is styled New York v. United States Dep’t of Labor, No. CV 18-1747 (JDB), 2019 WL 1410370 (D.D.C. Mar. 28, 2019).

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By Heather Mehta on August 2, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Businessperson holding a white piece of paper that says "Lessons Learned."In April 2018, New York University was the first university to take to trial a case claiming it violated its ERISA fiduciary duties. And on July 31, 2018, it became the first university to win. Sacerdote v. New York Univ., No. 16-CV-6284 (KBF), 2018 WL 3629598 (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 2018).

More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against prestigious colleges and universities claiming that they violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) in the operation of their Code Section 403(b) plans. Within the last year, University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern each won dismissal of their cases, and the University of Chicago settled its claims for $6.5 million. But NYU’s victory was the first to come after a trial, and the court’s finding of facts and conclusions of law provide lessons for ERISA fiduciaries — and not just those embroiled in their own fee cases.

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By Heather Mehta on July 26, 2018 at 2:50 PM

"Denied" spelled out with wooden blocksOn the same day the Ninth Circuit denied arbitration in Munro v. University of Southern California, a district also denied a motion to compel arbitration of a former employee’s ERISA breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims in Brown v. Wilmington Trust, N.A., No. 3:17-cv-250 (S.D. OH July 24, 2018).

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By Heather Mehta on July 25, 2018 at 9:40 AM

Blank arbitration agreement with a red pen on topThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s opinion that the University of Southern California could not compel arbitration of ERISA claims brought by its employees despite the fact that the parties entered into a broad arbitration agreement. Munro v. University of Southern California, No. 17-55550 (July 24, 2018). The reason? The agreement did not extend to claims brought on behalf of the employees’ retirement plan.

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By Heather Mehta on June 11, 2018 at 10:10 AM

Man holding an empty walletIn an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found a lower court did not err when awarding no relief for a breach of fiduciary duty. (Pender v. Bank of America Corp., No. 17-1485, June 5, 2018.) Although Bank of America violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the court found that it did not profit from its actions and, therefore, awarding damages would not be appropriate equitable relief.

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By Heather Mehta on May 30, 2018 at 1:25 PM

"403(b) Plan" on a piece of white paperNorthwestern University recently defeated a lawsuit alleging that it violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) while managing its retirement plans. The plaintiffs brought ERISA breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims, alleging the university’s retirement plans featured imprudent investments and paid excessive fees. On May 25, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety and denied the plaintiffs’ motion to amend to add additional counts, finding them futile.

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By Heather Mehta on January 24, 2018 at 1:25 PM

One orange arrow going to the right, two white arrows going to the left on a chalkboardOn January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court requested the Solicitor General’s opinion on whether a plaintiff can simultaneously bring a claim for benefits and a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). A request for the view of the Solicitor Generally typically indicates the court’s interest in hearing a case.

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By Heather Mehta on January 18, 2018 at 12:25 PM

U.S. Supreme Court building. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to address the issue of whether forum selection clauses are valid and enforceable in plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Three U.S. Courts of Appeals have allowed enforcement of plans’ forum selection clauses.

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By Heather Mehta on August 22, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Choosing a specific location on a mapThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit joined the Sixth Circuit in holding that forum selection clauses in plan documents are valid and enforceable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

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