The Department of Labor is backing 401(k) participants in an appeal of the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit filed against Deere & Co. and Fidelity Investments, according to a brief filed by the department.
The District Court erroneously concluded that the (Labor) secretarys regulation is unreasonable in that it continues to hold fiduciaries responsible, and potentially liable, for selecting and maintaining the particular funds offered to plan participants, and shields fiduciaries only from liability for participants choices between the various fund options, the brief said. Calls to the DOL were not returned.
A U.S. District Court judge in Madison, Wis., dismissed last June the suit against Moline, Ill.-based Deere and Fidelity. Fidelity is trustee and record keeper for Deeres $2.5 billion 401(k) plan. Deere employees alleged the plan and Fidelity charged unreasonable fees to participants, but Judge John C. Shabaz ruled that Deere and Fidelity met their fiduciary obligations under ERISA. The appeal is pending. Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, a St. Louis law firm, is representing Deere participants.
An item about Deere first appeared in the March 24 issue of Financial Week.
This item was amended on March 28.