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Dismissal of ERISA suit against Great-West upheld by 10th Circuit

A court of appeals upheld a federal court's decision to throw out a class-action lawsuit against Great-West for allegedly violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The suit, filed against Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. by lead plaintiff John Teets, alleged that Great-West retained too much of the investment return gained from Farmers' Rice Cooperative 401(k) Savings Plan, to the detriment of participants and in violation of ERISA. Mr. Teets was a participant in the plan for which Great-West provided record-keeping, administrative and investment services.

On Dec. 14, 2017, U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez in Denver granted Great-West's motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, terminating the case in favor of Great-West and vacating the trial date.

The plaintiff appealed the decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which affirmed the U.S. District Court's decision to throw out the case.

The District Court asserted that not only was Great-West not a fiduciary, but that Mr. Teets failed to provide "sufficient evidence to impose liability on Great-West as a non-fiduciary party in interest," said documents from the appeals court agreeing with the District Court's decision.