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Judge dismisses fiduciary-breach lawsuit against Delta Air Lines

A U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta has dismissed claims by participants in a Delta Air Lines Inc. 401(k) plan alleging that plan executives breached their fiduciary duties by charging excessive record-keeping fees and offering certain unnecessarily expensive investment options.

Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. dismissed the plaintiffs' amended complaint in a case first filed 12 months ago because the participants lacked standing to sue.

"Plaintiffs have not alleged that they were invested in the criticized funds or paid the allegedly excessive fees," Mr. Batten wrote in a Dec. 12 opinion in the case of Johnson and Banks vs. Delta Air Lines Inc. et al.

The plaintiffs, who were seeking class-action status, are members of the Delta Family Care Savings Plan, Atlanta, which had assets of $9.16 billion as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to its latest Form 5500 filing.

They unsuccessfully argued that they could sue on behalf of plan members "even if they were not personally injured," according to Mr. Batten's ruling. They also unsuccessfully argued that "the mere fact that (Delta defendants) allegedly violated ERISA rights creates an injury to them," the judge wrote.