ERISA-Eighth Circuit Affirms One And Reverses Other Rulings That Defendants Breached ERISA Fiduciary Duty

In Tussey v. ABB, Inc., No. 12-2056, etc. (8th Cir. 2014), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) considered an appeal in a class action brought by representatives of a class of current and former employees of ABB, Inc. (“ABB”) who participated in two ABB 401(k) retirement plans (together, the “Plan”). The district court had entered judgment against the defendants on a claim that they had violated their fiduciary duties under ERISA concerning the Plan. The defendants were, among others, ABB, the Plan fiduciaries and Fidelity Management Trust Company and an affiliate.

The particular fiduciary duties the district court found violated related to: (1) failing to control recordkeeping costs, (2) investment selection for the Plan, (3) exchanging one Plan investment for another (mapping) and (4) treatment of float. The Court affirmed the finding as to (1), and vacated and remanded the case back to the district court as to the findings in (2) (on district court’s failure to give deference to fiduciary decision), (3) (same as for (2)) and (4) (concluding that no breach of duty of loyalty arose since float is not a plan asset).

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