ERISA
EXCESSIVE FEES


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The Lyon Firm is currently investigating for plaintiffs nationwide cases of retirement plan violations, ERISA excessive fee claims, and 401(k) class actions brought by retirement plan participants.

Employees and attorneys are challenging retirement plans and revenue sharing arrangements, claiming that the various types of investment options, such as retail mutual funds and actively managed funds, charge plan participants excessive fees.

Since 2006, a wave of ERISA fiduciary lawsuits challenging the fees and expenses associated with 401 (k) plans have been filed on the behalf of American workers who feel they have been misled and cheated out of a percentage of their retirement funds.

Several recent rulings have resulted in large settlements and judgments, including a $62 million settlement with Lockheed Martin Corp., as well as settlements with several financial institutions and other corporations.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of retirement plan and financial fraud in Ohio ERISA lawsuits.  

If you have questions about your 401K plan, please contact us for a no-cost consultation and potential evaluation of your plan.


What is ERISA?


The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals.
ERISA requires plans to provide participants with important plan information including the following:

•    Plan features and funding
•    Minimum standards for participation
•    Vesting
•    Benefit accrual and funding


ERISA also provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets, requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants, and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently updated its fiduciary rule, and could conceivably lead to more fee litigations. The new rules expand the scope of individuals and entities subject to ERISA’s fiduciary requirements.


Excess Pension Fee Lawsuits


In 2015, several large corporations settled lawsuits with their employees regarding their retirement plans. Boeing Co agreed to pay $57 million to settle a lawsuit in which employees accused the company of mismanaging their 401(k) retirement plan.

  • Participants in the Estee Lauder 401(k) Savings Plan filed a class action lawsuit, alleging the company breached fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by failing to prevent the plan from paying lower investment and recordkeeping fees. Plaintiffs said that as a large plan, the company should have had bargaining power regarding the fees and expenses that were charged on the participants’ investments. Attorneys claimed the company did not try to reduce expenses or scrutinize investment options to the best of their ability. The plaintiffs allege those in charge of the Estee Lauder accounts breached their duties by failing to adequately review the plan’s investment portfolio. They say these breaches cost 401(k) participants millions of dollars.
  • Huntington Bancshares Inc. has made a $10.5 million deal to settle a proposed class action that challenged its decision to make allegedly underperforming company-owned mutual funds the centerpiece of its 401(k) retirement plan for company employees. 
  • Fidelity Investments settled a lawsuit involving their 401(k) plan for $28.5 million, which resolved a class-action case filed in 2018 that alleged the firm breached its fiduciary responsibility by adding its own products to the plan menu. The company had settled a similar claim in 2014 for $12 million. Fidelity has been accused of charging excessive infrastructure fees. Lawyers say the company reportedly adjusted its discretionary profit-sharing contributions to participants based on the amounts that had been returned to their accounts.
  • A trade association representing more than 900 electric cooperatives and public utility districts announced plans to settle a class action lawsuit challenging the fees embedded in its 401(k) plan. The settlement would resolve a lawsuit that alleged the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association mismanaged its 401(k) plan in violation of ERISA.
  • A participant in the Costco 401(k) Retirement Plan filed a  lawsuit against the company, alleging violations of their ERISA duties. The lawsuit says the fiduciaries of the plan authorized unreasonably high fees for recordkeeping. Attorneys claimed the plan generally chose more costly, managed funds rather than index funds that offered a substantially lower cost.

Other companies that have settled ERISA-related lawsuits include:

  • Verizon Communications Inc.
  • AT&T
  • Chevron Corp.
  • Intel Corp.
  • Oracle Corp.
  • American Airlines Inc.
  • Anthem Inc.
  • Deutsche Bank Americas
  • Insperity Inc.
  • M&T Bank Corp.
  • BB&T Corp.
  • DST Systems Inc
  • Putnam Investments LLC
  • Allianz Asset Management

AT&T 401(k) Class Action 


Plaintiffs have filed a class action excessive fee lawsuit against defendant AT&T Services Inc. for allegedly mismanaging its $35 billion 401(k) retirement plan. AT&T has informed a federal judge in California that it would not dispute the participants’ request for class status.

In the complaint, almost 245,000 retirement plan participants and beneficiaries are challenging the administrative 401(k) fees paid to Fidelity Investments. AT&T plan participants have sued the company and the plan, alleging the company’s calculations for early retirement benefits violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The class members claim they are forced to relinquish accrued, vested pension benefits if they retire before age 65, or receive their pension benefit in the form of a joint and survivor annuity. The complaint alleges that AT&T’s calculations for early retirement benefits and joint and survivor benefits offer “less than the actuarial equivalent of their vested accrued benefit as required by ERISA.”

Attorneys say AT&T has violated ERISA standards because the plan’s early retirement payments aren’t actuarially equivalent to the payments for normal retirement payments, and plaintiffs allege that the calculated early retirement benefits formula has not been updated in over a decade, despite increases in participants’ average longevity.

Joe Lyon is a Cincinnati, Ohio class action attorney reviewing alleged AT&T ERISA violations and other cases involving excessive retirement plan fees.


Excessive Pension Fee Class Actions


In the last year, plaintiffs have brought claims new against 401(k) plans that offer Vanguard and Stable Value Funds as investment options. These claims are surprising, since plaintiffs previously argued that fiduciaries should use funds like Vanguard in 401(k) plans because they offer relatively lower index-based fees as compared to other investment options.

Plaintiffs have brought cases against Anthem and Chevron based on their inclusion of Vanguard funds that plaintiffs claim charged excessive fees in relation to other share classes that were allegedly available.

Plaintiffs have alleged that Anthem’s 401(k) plan, worth over $5 billion, failed to use its sizeable bargaining power to demand lower cost investment options.


Employers Liable for Excessive Fees


The most publicized settlements are levied against large companies because of the massive sums involved. However, many American workers in small companies providing retirement plans have also been victims of excessive fees. Research shows that smaller plans typically carry higher fees than larger plans that can use their size as leverage to negotiate better deals.

Nearly 75,000 401(k) plans have $25 million or fewer in assets, and over four million workers have their retirement savings in these plans.

In a recent class action lawsuit, a Minnesota auto body repair company with around 100 participants and less than $10 million in assets was sued for excess fee violations.

Most cases concern mega plans with assets in the billions of dollars, but this lawsuit, filed in May against LaMettry’s Collision and its $9 million 401(k) plan, has the attention of many companies and employers of the small-plan variety.


Ohio ERISA Lawsuits & Universities


Several highly-respected American universities such as, Columbia, Yale, Duke, New York University, MIT, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt and Emory have been targeted with claims that retirement plans cheated employees through excessive fees.

In contrast to the 401(k) plan cases, most of the suits, including the newest one against Columbia, concern university 403(b) plans.


Company Retirement Plan Fraud


Over 60,000 workers filed a recent class action lawsuit against Morgan Stanley. The suit claims that the company mismanaged its own employees’ retirement plans by offering poorly performing funds and charging excessive fees.

The suit also alleges that the company used the 401(k) plan as an opportunity to promote its own business and maximize profits at the expense of its employees. It offered its own funds, without considering funds from other companies.


ERISA Pension Fund Lawyer


Employee benefits attorneys have shown Ohio ERISA lawsuits are reshaping the 401(k) industry, pointing to lower industry-wide fees. To keep fees down, employers increasingly turn to index funds, which track a major index such as the Standard & Poor’s 500, since they’re cheaper than actively managed ones.

However, some companies and funds are still neglecting what is financially best for retirement plan participants in favor of maximizing profits for fund managers and banks.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law that sets standards for most voluntarily established retirement plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals. ERISA provides the following guidelines and regulations:

  • Plans must provide participants with plan information, including information about plan features and funding
  • ERISA sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accrual and funding
  • ERISA outlines fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets
  • ERISA requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans
  • The law also gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty. If a benefit plan is terminated, the law guarantees payment of certain benefits through a federally chartered corporation.

The Lyon Firm is proud to litigate ERISA violation claims and Excessive Fee cases on behalf of employees whose 401(k) and pensions have suffered losses as a result of a breach of fiduciary duties by plan administrators and corresponding companies.

Joe Lyon has recovered millions of dollars for American workers and consumers in a variety of consumer protection lawsuits and class action employment litigation.

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Without class actions, large corporate defendants would be able to cause small amounts of harm over a large group of individuals without any risk of monetary penalty.

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Questions About Class Action Lawsuits

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A Class Action is a lawsuit brought by an individual on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals. Rule 23 of the Federal and State Rules of Civil Procedure allows for Class Action lawsuits to resolve disputes in an efficient format.

Class Actions are typically filed when the amount of money in dispute for a single plaintiff would not justify litigating the case, but where the amount of damages of the entire class of Plaintiffs would justify the cost of litigation. Without class actions, large corporate defendants would be able to cause small amounts of harm over a large group of individuals without any risk of monetary penalty.

What is the difference between a Class Action & a Mass Tort?

A Class Action lawsuit involves a large group of people that have experienced extremely similar outcomes. Because the cases must meet the strict guidelines of the Class Action, they are presented under one plaintiff. 

In a Mass Tort, individual experiences may vary. Even though a large number of people have been affected, the variations from case to case are more broad than a class action. In a Mass Tort each plaintiff is represented independently, though in most instances there is still a set of general criteria to meet.

What are the requirements?

In order for a case to be certified as a Class Action, the Court must determine that the case is appropriate for class action treatment under Rule 23. There are different elements depending on whether the case is seeking monetary or injunctive relief. In general, the Court must find the following elements are satisfied:

  • Numerosity: The proposed class must be so numerous that simply joining the individual plaintiffs would be impractical. Generally, the class size should exceed 100 individuals.
  • Common Questions of Law or Fact: The facts and/or legal questions in the dispute must be common to all class members. This does not mean all facts or issues must be identical, but the primary facts and law that will determine the issue in dispute must be common among all class members.
  • Typicality: The named Plaintiff in the case must have the same facts and legal issues as the class they are proposing to represent. If the Plaintiff’s individual case involves issues of fact or law unique to that Plaintiff and are irrelevant to the ultimate issue, class certification may be denied by the Court.
  • Plaintiff/Counsel Adequately Represents the Class: The Court must find that the Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s Counsel are competent and will protect the class’ interests.
  • Predominance: Common questions of fact predominate over individual facts.
  • Superiority: The Class Action is a more efficient and fair means of resolving the dispute. The Court will look at the following factors when making this determination: (1) Class Member interest in maintaining a separate action; (2) the extent of any litigation already begun by other class members; (3) desirability or undesirability of litigating the case in a particular Court ; (4) difficulties in managing the class.
What counts as a class action?

Medical Device Litigation, Pharmaceutical Litigation, and other toxic tort litigation is not appropriate for Class Action treatment. Specifically, cases that involve injuries to the parties contain too many individual facts in terms of the science and causation to find that the common issues predominate over the individual facts.

On the other hand, complex litigation that impacts many individuals and contain common questions of fact related to the conduct of the defendant are often appropriate for mass tort consolidation. Mass Tort consolidation in federal multi-district litigation or a State mass tort docket, allows the parties to utilize the efficiency of class action litigation through the discovery process but still allows the parties to litigate their cases individually on the critical issues of whether the conduct caused the alleged injuries.

While our human bodies are very similar, each individual’s body may have reacted differently to the toxic exposure that makes Class Action treatment inappropriate in most personal injury lawsuits.

Some toxic tort areas that may be beneficial for class action lawsuits can involve environmental contamination. When companies are negligent and contaminate large swaths of private property. Public nuisance lawsuits have been filed against negligent agricultural operations of fracking companies.

Why Hire the Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

 Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Class Action Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Class Action lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical Negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence cases.  The cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world

Your Right to Justice

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Filing Class Action lawsuits is a complex and serious legal course and can carry monetary sanctions if proper legal course is not followed. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to assisting injured plaintiffs work toward a financial solution to assist in compensating for medical expenses or other damages sustained.

We work with law firms across the country to provide the most resources possible and to build your case into a valuable settlement. The current legal environment is favorable for consumers involved in data breach class actions, deceptive marketing lawsuits, TCPA telemarketing claims, and financial negligence claims.

Recent Class Action Cases

We work with law firms across the country to provide the most resources possible and to build your case into a valuable settlement. 

Ohio Data Breach & Privacy Lawsuits

Invasion of privacy law has been established to protect consumers and citizens of the United States. When companies are negligent and fail to protect consumer information, which can be used in malicious ways, victims can contact a class action attorney to represent them in class action data breach lawsuits. A number of privacy breach and data breach claims have been settled by The Lyon Firm and other consumer protection lawyers around the country.

Consumer Protection Class Action

Consumers have rights in the USA, and when companies do not provide a service they have promised, or hold up their end of a bargain, legal action may be necessary. Consumer protection attorneys work on your behalf to hold companies responsible for providing a fair and safe service.

The Lyon Firm has worked with law firms nationwide in consumer class actions involving deceptive marketing, false advertising, food mislabeling and misleading marketing claims.

TCPA Robocall Class Actions

TCPA lawsuits have become one of the most common kinds of legal claims. The TCPA Act provides privacy protection for consumers by restricting how companies and organizations can contact you by telephone. Robocall harassment and unfair debt collection has been a serious issue that has required lawsuits in order to keep telemarketing companies at bay.

If you have experienced telephone harassment by a bank, real estate company, hotel, political campaign or anyone else, you may have TCPA claim. The Lyon Firm works diligently to seek compensation for those harassed at their home or work.

Ohio Wage and Hour Lawsuits

Class action wage and hour lawsuits are always ongoing, as some employers fail to treat employees properly, and attempt to cut workers out of earned wages. Wage theft lawsuits can be valuable for a class of plaintiffs who believes their employer has cheated them out of overtime pay and other earned wages.

There have been several wage theft lawsuits and settlements that have compensated employees for the wages they have earned, as well as damages for emotional distress and punitive damages when an employer is negligent in treating workers in accordance to Ohio labor law.

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