Alert March 18, 2010

From the Editors

In our latest issue of the ERISA Litigation Update, we address four topics we believe are of interest to clients and practitioners in the field.  We start with an update on two settlements in the latest wave of ERISA class action fee cases.  The settlements are notable as much for the types of non-monetary relief agreed upon by the parties, including limitations on the types of available investments and disclosures provided to participants, as they are for the 10-figure monetary amounts to which defendants have agreed.  We then present a pair of articles addressing the same topic, but from two different vantage-points – when is a person or entity who otherwise might be a plan fiduciary structurally exempt from liability?  While there are a number of ways to look at this question, we address two that have recently generated decisional law and amicus briefs by the Department of Labor on appeal.  First, plans that require investment in employer stock, and thus require a fiduciary to follow the plan's terms under ERISA § 404(a)(1)(D); second, plans – such as 401(k) plans – that allow participants to exercise control over their accounts under ERISA § 404(c).  Our final article looks at the state of the law in the benefits world after MetLife Ins. Co. v. Glenn, 128 S.Ct. 2343 (2008), specifically addressing how circuit courts are applying the standard of review in benefits denial cases where the entity responsible for paying a claim also decides the validity of a claim.  As always, we welcome readers’ feedback on these articles and suggestions for future editions.