Ms. Douglass counsels and defends a broad range of clients, including 401(k) plan service providers, directed trustees, investment managers, plan fiduciaries, and insurance companies, with a particular focus on ERISA fiduciary issues. Ms. Douglass is currently representing some of the largest financial institutions in excessive fee litigation under ERISA and the Investment Company Act of 1940. Her recent experience includes representing:
- Affiliated service providers to retirement plans in excessive 401(k) fee cases challenging the way in which ERISA plans pay for investment and recordkeeping services. Participated in securing the first dismissal of all claims against a service provider in this wave of cases.
- The same service providers in similar action pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, involving four-week trial in 2010. Trial decision granted judgment for Goodwin’s client on all counts except one technical claim as to which appeals court subsequently reversed judgment.
- A 401(k) plan trustee in breach of ERISA fiduciary duty class action arising from the distribution of retirement plan assets to employees of Abbott Laboratories; the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed all claims against our client prior to trial.
- One of the leading insurance companies providing 401(k) recordkeeping services in putative class action brought on behalf of all of its plan clients alleging breaches of ERISA fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions by the receipt of allegedly excessive fees.
- One of the nation’s largest insurance companies in putative nationwide class action raising novel claims under ERISA and the Investment Company Act of 1940, challenging the fee structures of variable annuity and mutual fund products offered to retirement plans. Obtained appellate affirmance of dismissal of mutual fund-related claims and dismissal of ERISA claims by trial court.
- A leading life insurance company in a putative class action of all participants of welfare plans who received death benefits in the form of retained asset accounts, challenging under ERISA the propriety of such arrangements.
- A mortgage company, and certain of its officers and directors, in ERISA breach of fiduciary class actions in connection with investment of plan assets in company stock.
- Multiple investment managers and ERISA plan fiduciaries in regulatory proceedings before the Department of Labor and the SEC.
In addition to her complex commercial litigation practice, Ms. Douglass has extensive pro bono experience. She works with the New England Innocence Project representing incarcerated individuals in their pursuit of post-conviction exoneration through DNA, and has served as a Committee for Public Counsel Services Bar Advocate representing indigent criminal defendants.
Prior to joining Goodwin, Ms. Douglass was an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston.