7th Circ. Backs Northwestern's Win In ERISA Fee Battle

Law360 (March 25, 2020, 9:46 PM EDT) -- Northwestern University didn’t mishandle workers’ retirement savings by offering them overpriced index funds, the Seventh Circuit ruled Wednesday, saying courts shouldn’t be able to “seize” federal benefits law to punish fiduciaries for offering too many investment options.

A three-judge panel said a lower court properly dismissed a proposed class action alleging Northwestern’s plan breached its fiduciary duty by offering the insufficient index funds. The university didn’t violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act simply by including some imprudent investment options, the panel said.

“Any participant could avoid what plaintiffs consider to be the problems with those products (excessive record-keeping fees and underperformance)...

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