ERISA-Eighth Circuit Remands ERISA Case Back To District Court, To Consider Whether Plaintiffs Can Prove That A Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Caused Losses To The Plans

In Tussey v. Abb, Inc., No. 15-2792, No. 16-1127 (8th Cir. 2017), a class of employees who participated in ABB, Inc.’s retirement plans-specifically, the “401(k) defined contribution savings plans”- accuse ABB and its agents (collectively, the “ABB fiduciaries”) of managing the plans for their own benefit, rather than the participants’. In an earlier appeal, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) had directed the district court to “reevaluate” how the participants might have been injured if the ABB fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA when they changed the investment options for the plans.

Because the district court apparently mistook that direction for a definitive ruling on how to measure plan losses, and as a result entered judgment in favor of the ABB fiduciaries despite finding they did breach their duties, on this appeal, the Court vacated the judgment on that claim and remanded the case back to the district court for further consideration regarding whether the participants can prove losses to the plans. Because the Court reopened one of the participants’ substantive claims, the Court also vacated and remanded the district court’s award of attorney fees.

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