A federal appeals court in Denver has turned back a request by 401(k) plan participants to overturn a lower court's dismissal of their ERISA lawsuit against Barrick Gold of North America Inc. in which they accused plan managers of charging excessive fees and offering poor-performing investments. The three-judge panel for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the opinion Sept. 6, upholding the lawsuit's dismissal by a U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April 2022.
The plaintiffs sued in April 2020, seeking class-action status, and later amended their complaint, Matney et al. vs. Barrick Gold of North America Inc.
The appeals court judges agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell's dismissal of the lawsuit. She wrote that the plaintiffs' tried to compare the 401(k) plan investments with dissimilar investments, offered incorrect information, used averages to compare the plan's management to other retirement plans and contained "generalizations, assumptions and unsuitable comparisons."
The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning plaintiffs could not refile in her court.
"The district court dismissed the case with prejudice, concluding the first amended complaint did not plausibly allege any breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA," the appeals court judges wrote. "We affirm. "
As of Dec. 31, 2021, the Barrick Retirement Plan, Elko, Nev., had $1.3 billion in assets, according to the company's most recent Form 5500.