A former Intel Corp. employee who sued the technology company for investing his retirement funds imprudently got a second chance on Wednesday to pursue his case after it was tossed by a federal judge last year.
Christopher Sulyma convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco to reverse an earlier summary judgment by the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., on his claim that Intel unwisely invested in alternative investments. The District Court ruled in March 2017 that Mr. Sulyma's claims were barred under the statute of limitations, which requires plaintiffs to make claims within three years of learning of a violation.
The 9th Circuit reversed the District Court's decision on Wednesday, ruling that Mr. Sulyma did not have "actual knowledge" of the company's alleged breaches to trigger the three-year limit.
Intel had argued that Mr. Sulyma had knowledge of the alleged breaches because it disclosed information about the plan's asset allocation and investment strategy in fund fact sheets and several other notices, including disclosures on its website.
The 9th Circuit ruled that was not enough. Mr. Sulyma was required to have "actual knowledge both that those investments occurred and that they were imprudent," U.S. Circuit Judge Clifford Wallace wrote in the opinion.
The judge noted that Mr. Sulyma claimed that he did not recall seeing any documents alerting him to the fact that his retirement assets were significantly invested in hedge funds or private equity.
"These statements created a dispute of material fact that precluded summary judgment on these claims," the judge wrote.
An Intel spokesman declined to comment on the decision.
Mr. Sulyma participated in two of Intel's retirement plans: the Intel 401(k) Savings Plan and the Intel Retirement Contribution Plan. The two defined contribution plans had combined assets of $18.4 billion as of Dec. 31, according to Form 5500 filings with the Department of Labor.