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Pioneer Natural Resources settles 401(k) fiduciary breach suit

Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc. has agreed to pay $500,000 to current and former participants in a company 401(k) plan to settle charges that plan managers breached their fiduciary duties.

The preliminary settlement agreement, which must be approved by a federal District Court in Denver, was filed Monday by plaintiffs' attorneys in the class-action suit of Barrett et al. vs. Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc. et al.

The initial lawsuit was filed in July 2017 by one participant, and it was later amended to include four other plaintiffs who alleged the Pioneer plan paid record-keeping fees "in excess of a reasonable amount for the services rendered," the settlement document said.

Plaintiffs also alleged that Pioneer "failed to properly monitor the fiduciaries it appointed to manage the plan," the document said.

The parties subsequently agreed in October 2018 to a mediator's settlement proposal and prepared the preliminary settlement document for court approval.

The Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc. 401(k) And Matching Plan had $700.5 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to its latest Form 5500 filing. Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Irving, Texas.