Advisory – ERISA Fiduciary Decisions: Making Changes to Your Qualified Plan’s Investment Lineup

Written by
Following recent financial news regarding changes at the PIMCO Total Return Fund, Alston & Bird’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group summarizes the technical requirements and recommended procedures in making changes to your retirement plan’s investment lineup. From time to time, fiduciary committees need to consider whether to make a change in the investment alternatives available in their retirement plans. Typically in 401(k) and 403(b) plans and sometimes in other defined contribution plans, the fiduciary committee selects the investment options or funds available [...] Read more

Third Circuit Serves Up Big Win for Retirement Plan Service Providers

Written by
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently issued an important decision in one of the many cases alleging that financial services companies breached fiduciary duties under ERISA by charging allegedly excessive fees. This type of litigation has grown more prevalent in recent years. However, most appellate courts, including now the Third Circuit, have found these claims unmeritorious. In Santomenno v. John Hancock Life Insurance Company, No. 13–3467, 2014 WL 4783665 (3d Cir. Sept. 26, 2014), the plaintiffs argued that, as a service provider to their 401(k) plan, John Hancock had [...] Read more

Pat DiCarlo Quoted By PLANSPONSOR Regarding Growing Number of Pension Benefits Claims

Written by

On September 4, 2014, Pat DiCarlo was quoted in an article in PLANSPONSOR, in which he discussed the growing number of claims for pension benefits that were paid or rolled over decades ago by former employees who either do not recall receiving or rolling over their benefits or who are questioning the amount of benefits they received.

To read the article, entitled “Decades-Old DB Benefit Payments Being Questioned,” click here.

Blake MacKay and Emily Hootkins Published in Law360 – “Costs To Pension Withdrawal Liability May Change”

Written by
In the first published decision of its kind, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently determined that that contribution surcharges imposed when a multiemployer pension fund enters critical status should not be counted in calculating an employer’s withdrawal liability. Bd. of Trustees of IBT Local 863 Pension Fund v. C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc./Woodbridge Logistics LLC, — F. Supp. 2d —, No. 12-7823, 2014 WL 1687141 (D.N.J. Mar. 19, 2014). The case is a departure from how many funds calculate withdrawal liability, and it opens the doorway for new challenges [...] Read more

Advisory – Notice to Late Filers of Form 5500 Regarding Relief from Penalties under the Internal Revenue Code and Reminder About Fee Disclosures

Written by
This advisory addresses an important update regarding additional steps that plan administrators must take, in order to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, if they failed to timely file the Form 5500 series of annual reports. This advisory also includes a critical reminder concerning the timing of fee disclosures regarding qualified retirement plans. To read the full text of the advisory, please click here. [...] Read more

Living on a Prayer? Recent Challenges to the Church Plan Exemption (published with Benefits Law Journal)

Written by and

In 2013 alone, at least five lawsuits were filed challenging the application of the church plan exemption to pension plans sponsored by major nonprofit hospital systems that are connected with the Roman Catholic Church. This article addresses the issues raised by those lawsuits, recent decisions in those cases, and the potential impact of these lawsuits on the controversial church plan exemption.

To read the complete article, please click here.

ADVISORY: Supreme Court Rejects “Presumption of Prudence” for ESOP Fiduciaries, but Nonetheless Sets a High Bar for the Plausibility of Employer Stock Drop Claims

Written by and
On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. In a unanimous decision, the Court overruled the Sixth Circuit and every other circuit to address the issue, by holding that fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) are not entitled to a presumption of prudence with regard to investments in employer securities. However, notwithstanding the rejection of the presumption of prudence, the Supreme Court provided clear guidance to the lower courts, instructing them to carefully consider the plausibility of claims alleging breach of the fiduciary [...] Read more

Supreme Court Agrees To Consider Yet Another “Presumption” Out Of The Sixth Circuit: That Retiree Health Care Benefits Are Intended To Be Vested For Life, Absent Clear Plan Or Bargaining Agreement Language To The Contrary

Written by
In the ERISA world, the Supreme Court has already granted a petition for certiorari of a Sixth Circuit case in order to consider one significant “presumption” this term – when it agreed to evaluate whether the Moench “presumption of prudence” regarding employer stock is a proper legal standard for evaluating breach of fiduciary duty claims. However, on May 5, the high court granted a petition for certiorari of yet another Sixth Circuit case regarding yet another significant presumption – this time, the judicially-crafted presumption that retiree health benefits [...] Read more

Pat DiCarlo Honored by Georgia Justice Project with Grass Roots Justice Award

Written by
On April 24, 2014, Pat DiCarlo was honored by the Georgia Justice Project with its Grass Roots Justice Award, in recognition of his groundbreaking, ongoing work in reducing collateral consequences of criminal records and providing quality counsel to veterans and others in need. In 2009, Mr. DiCarlo co-authored the book Collateral Consequences of Arrests and Convictions with his uncle, Lane Dennard. Mr. DiCarlo and Mr. Dennard have worked extensively with Georgia Justice Project and other organizations to advocate for those who have been denied employment, housing and/or government benefits [...] Read more

Second Federal Judge Rejects Hospital’s Blind Faith on ERISA’s “Church Plan” Exemption

Written by
A flurry of five similar lawsuits filed in the last year challenge the application of ERISA’s church plan exemption to pension plans sponsored by non-profit hospital systems that are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. In a nutshell, a “church plan” is a plan that is established and maintained “by a church or by a convention or association of churches which is exempt from tax under section 501 of title 26.” 29 U.S.C. § 1002(33)(A). Church plans are not subject to the reporting, disclosure, participation, vesting and funding requirements that are imposed [...] Read more