The Boeing Co., Chicago, agreed to pay $57 million to settle allegations by participants in the company’s 401(k) plan that plan executives breached their fiduciary duties, said a settlement document published Thursday in the class-action suit Spano et al. vs. The Boeing Co. et al.
As part of the settlement, Boeing denied any wrongdoing and denied that participants lost money in the retirement account investments.
In a case that started in 2006, participants had alleged that Boeing plan executives caused or allowed “unreasonable” fees in the operation of the 401(k) plan. They also claimed that plan officials “imprudently” managed the company stock fund and offered “an imprudently volatile technology sector fund,” the settlement document said.
At the end of 2014, the Boeing plan had $46.2 billion in assets, according to its most recent 11-K filing.
The agreement said the $57 million settlement includes up to $19 million in attorneys’ fees for the St. Louis law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, which represented the participants. In addition, the law firm may seek reimbursement of up to $1.85 million in litigation expenses.
The settlement terms — and the claim for legal fees and litigation expenses — must be approved by U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel, who has presided over the case in a federal court in East St. Louis, Ill. The settlement agreement didn’t cite a timetable for final approval of the settlement or the claims for lawyers’ fees and costs.
Attorneys for Boeing and for the participants announced a preliminary settlement on Aug. 26 this year, the day the case was set to go to trial. At that time, they didn’t discuss settlement terms.
According to the settlement document, all attorneys “agree to keep confidential” from parties unaffected by the agreement “all positions, assertions and offers made during settlement negotiations.”