A federal judge in San Diego has rejected a petition by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit by former employees who alleged a 401(k) plan violated ERISA due to poor-performing investments, high record-keeping costs and a refusal to issue RFPs to seek better financial terms.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Huie issued his opinion Jan. 31 in the case that started in August 2021 and was the subject of some dismissed allegations in March 2023.
In the plaintiffs' second amended complaint, Huie turned back the defendants' request to dismiss allegations about high-cost share classes of mutual funds, poor performance of mutual funds, the offering of a stable value fund, excessive advisory fees and failure to monitor fiduciaries. He also rejected the defendants' argument that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue.
The judge gave the defendants 14 days to respond to the complaint in Coppel et al. vs. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc et al., which is seeking class-action status.
Sea World Parks & Entertainment is the former sponsor. SWBG LLC, also a defendant, is the current sponsor. SWBG LLC is a subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., a theme parks and entertainment company based in Orlando, Fla. The parent company is not a defendant.
SWBG LLC 401(k) Plan, Orlando, Fla., formerly known as the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment 401(k) Plan, had $301 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the latest Form 5500.