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Courts

Fiduciary breach suit against Caterpillar record keeper comes to an end

Plaintiffs and defendants agreed to drop litigation in a lawsuit by Caterpillar Inc. 401(k) participants alleging the plan's record keeper and an affiliate violated their fiduciary duties when they subcontracted a financial advice service to Financial Engines.

The one-sentence notice of dismissal with prejudice was filed Nov. 28 in U.S. District Court in Chicago for the case Cheryl Scott et al. vs. Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors et al, noting that all parties will pay their own attorneys' fees and costs.

In March 2018, a U.S. magistrate judge in Chicago dismissed the claim by participants that the record keeper, formerly known as Aon Hewitt, and an affiliate caused participants to pay "excessive fees," which "amounted to improper kickbacks." The record keeper is now called Alight Solutions.

"The court concludes that Caterpillar had sole authority to select and hire Financial Engines, and it is not plausible on this record that Hewitt had any final authority or control over the selection and hiring of Financial Engines," U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert wrote in the March 2018 opinion. "The court is not persuaded by any of (the plaintiff's) arguments in support of her claims that Hewitt is a fiduciary or has a fiduciary duty to her and the plan participants."

In the original complaint, neither Caterpillar nor Financial Engines was cited as a defendant. In the dismissal notice, Caterpillar was identified as one of the defendants.