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Washington University Employees Seek Class Certification In ERISA Lawsuit

| Jun 23, 2021 | Firm News

June 23, 2021, St. Louis, Missouri – Current and former employees of Washington University in St. Louis have filed a Reply Brief in further support of their motion for class certification in their lawsuit against their fiduciaries of University’s 403(b) retirement plan. A copy of Plaintiffs’ Reply Brief can be found here. The lawsuit alleges that the University violated ERISA by subjecting the University-sponsored retirement plan to excessive fees and imprudent investments.

The Complaint against Washington University, which can be found here, alleges that the fiduciaries of the plan allowed service providers to charge participants unreasonably high recordkeeping fees due, in part, to the utilization of two recordkeepers, when one was sufficient. The team of lawyers representing Plaintiffs and the proposed class, which includes Eric Lechtzin of Edelson Lechtzin LLP, also alleges imprudence on the part of the 403(b) plan’s fiduciaries based on to their selection and retention of a bewildering number of investment options, which included retail share classes of many funds despite the fact that lower-cost institutional shares of the same funds were readily available to the 403(b) plan.

In their opposition to class certification, Washington University argues that the named Plaintiffs do not meet the adequacy and typicality requirements to serve as representatives of the proposed class. Plaintiffs’ Reply Brief maintains that Plaintiffs satisfy all of the requirements outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), which lays out the conditions necessary to achieve class certification.

In response to Defendants’ arguments, Plaintiffs cite to 8th Circuit precedent, which holds that a representative filing a suit on behalf of a retirement plan may “seek relief that […] sweeps beyond their own injury.” Here, Plaintiffs contend that the absent class members share “same or similar grievances” as Plaintiffs and their claims “are based on the same legal or remedial theory.”

Moreover, all class members’ claims arise from the failure of the 403(b) plan’s fiduciaries to properly monitor and control fees and expenses, which adversely impacted all participants in the plan.

The case is Davis v. Washington University in St. Louis, case number 4:17-cv-01641, and is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Edelson Lechtzin LLP is a national class action law firm with offices in Pennsylvania and California. In addition to cases involving retirement plans, our lawyers focus on class and collective litigation in cases alleging violations of the federal antitrust laws, securities fraud, wage theft, consumer fraud, and dangerous and defective drugs.