For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), the American Benefits Council (the Council), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Meiners v. Wells Fargo & Company, et al in support of the District Court’s ruling that dismissed the allegations against Wells Fargo & Company.
In the lawsuit, John Meiners claims that Wells Fargo breached its fiduciary duty under ERISA by offering a proprietary target date fund as the retirement plan’s default investment, when other less expensive funds were available. Our amicus brief argues that these allegations are too flimsy to serve as the basis for legal relief and the District Court’s ruling should be upheld.
ERIC, the Council, and the Chamber believe the interests of retirement plan participants would be ill-served if the plaintiffs’ lawyers are able to enlist the courts to second-guess the reasonable professional judgment of plan fiduciaries acting in their area of expertise. Allowing the claims in this appeal to proceed on such threadbare allegations would invite a flood of meritless litigation against plan sponsors.
“If the District Court’s rulings are not upheld, existing retirement plans will continue to be threatened and employers could be deterred from offering them in the future or continuing to maintain the plans they have. We urge the Eighth Circuit to uphold the District Court’s judgment that plaintiffs must make substantive allegations and not frivolous statements when seeking relief,” said Will Hansen, Senior Vice President for Retirement Policy, ERIC.
“Employers take great care to design benefit plans that meet the unique needs of a diverse workforce,” said Lynn Dudley, the Council’s senior vice president of global retirement and compensation policy. “The cost of specific investments is just one of many factors employers consider. But to make costs the sole measure of an investment would be a disservice to plan participants – and itself ought to be considered a breach of fiduciary duty.”