The 401(k) plans of seven top corporations were targeted with class-action lawsuits charging breach of fiduciary duty for excessive fees and failure to report revenue-sharing arrangements. Seven individual suits, filed in Missouri, Illinois and Connecticut federal district courts by the law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton on behalf of plan participants and retirees, allege the companies violated ERISA provisions requiring plan fees to be reasonable and adequately disclosed.
The companies targeted in the lawsuits are Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md., with more than $14 billion in defined contribution assets; United Technologies Corp., Hartford, Conn., with nearly $14 billion in defined contribution assets; Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, with more than $11 billion in assets; Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., with $4.5 billion; General Dynamics Corp., Falls Church, Va., with $5.96 billion; International Paper Co., Memphis, Tenn.; with $4.4 billion; and Exelon Corp. Chicago, with more than $3 billion.
The suits are asking the court to make good on the losses, return "unjustly" gains from those who benefited, and for actual damages.
In an interview, Jerome J. Schlichter, the law firm's founding partner, said the suits were the result of a major investigation by the firm, which specializes in class-action lawsuits. He declined comment on whether additional similar lawsuits will be filed against other corporations.