WASHINGTON, September 11, 2023 – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) today filed a coalition amicus brief together with other groups representing sponsors and service providers of employee benefit plans in Bugielski et. al. v. AT&T, arguing that the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will have far-reaching negative consequences for plan participants, sponsors, and fiduciaries.
“If the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling is left unchecked, years of jurisprudence on pleading standards would effectively be nullified, and lawsuits would not need to include plausible allegations that plan fees were unreasonably high,” said ERIC President and CEO James Gelfand. “If not addressed, defined contribution plans could be subjected to a wave of spurious and expensive litigation that will ultimately place costs on the tens of millions of workers and retirees who count on these plans for retirement savings. To prevent these dire consequences, the current ruling should be reconsidered by the Ninth Circuit.”
The amicus brief filed today by ERIC and its allies focused on arguments that:
- The panel’s decision renders standard and ubiquitous contracts in American retirement plans presumptively unlawful
- The panel’s decision will open the floodgates to speculative recordkeeping claims
- Allowing claims that all re-negotiations of service provider agreements are prohibited transactions unless proven otherwise will have far-reaching negative consequences for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and participants
- The panel’s interpretation of federal law did not consider the entirety of § 406 of the Employee Retirement income Security Act.
The amicus brief filed today by the coalition may be accessed here.