The Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning in an important pension case under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.  Apparently it went well for those who favor interpreting ERISA so that it actually provides a remedy for victims of pension plan fiduciaries’ misdeeds.

According to the report on, justices "signaled they will let participants in 401(k) retirement plans file lawsuits claiming their accounts were mishandled."

The case centers on whether victims of fiduciary breaches may sue breaching fiduciaries to recover losses to the plan itself and, through it, to individual pension account holders.  The employer and its supporters — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — argued that participants can bring a case for the plan if, but only if, every single participant sustained a loss to his or her individual account.  The argument suggests a standard that is practically impossible to satisfy, but the Fourth Circuit adopted it anyway.

The Bloomberg report says that "several justices questioned why the number of accounts affected should make any difference."  It quotes Justice David Souter as asking "why do we need more than one?"


Barry Barnett

Feedicon14x14 Our feed predicts a win for employees who need (and deserve) retirement income security.