Think Before Incorporating SEC Filings Into SPDs

Law360, New York (September 27, 2012, 1:35 PM EDT) -- No federal circuit court had ever decided the fiduciary duty implications of incorporating U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings into an Employee Retirement Income Security Act-mandated summary plan description ("SPD") — until now. On Sept. 5, 2012, the Sixth Circuit issued a precedent-setting decision in Dudenhoefer v. Fifth Third Bancorp.[1]

Background

Dudenhoefer is a so-called ERISA "stock-drop" lawsuit. It involved a tax qualified defined contribution retirement plan (sponsored by Fifth Third) in which participants made voluntary contributions (commonly referred to as a 401(k) plan). Plan participants could elect to have their plan accounts invest in a variety of mutual funds and...

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