Biogen Inc. will pay $9.75 million to settle a lawsuit by 401(k) plan participants who alleged a series of ERISA violations by the company and fiduciaries, according to a settlement document filed Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Boston.
The parties had informed the court, which must approve the settlement, of an agreement in principle on June 29. They didn't provide details at that time in the case of In re Biogen Inc. ERISA Litigation, which represents the consolidation of separate lawsuits filed in July 2020 and September 2020. The settlement was achieved after a mediation session in June 2023.
In addition to the $9.75 million payment, the defendants agreed to requirements for the plan's retirement committee to complete an RFP for investment advisory services, conduct quarterly meetings and receive annual fiduciary training.
The settlement also said the committee would "conduct a full review of the suitability" of retaining a growth fund, evaluate adding a small-cap value equity fund to the plan lineup and decide whether the committee should be expanded to five members from three.
"The non-monetary relief directly addresses the breaches of fiduciary duty alleged in the class action and would minimize the risk of future losses to the plan," said the settlement document filed by plaintiffs' lawyers.
"The non-monetary relief, thus, provides significant value above and beyond the monetary relief afforded by the settlement," said the document, which defined the eligible class of participants and beneficiaries as anyone covered by the Biogen Inc. 401(k) Savings Plan from July 14, 2014, to the present.
"Class counsel and defendants' counsel are experienced in complex ERISA litigation, thoroughly understand the factual and legal issues involved in the class action, and believe the settlement is fair and reasonable," the document said.
The consolidated complaint accused the defendants of charging excessive fees, retaining poor-performing investments and failing to monitor plan investments. The defendants sought dismissal of all allegations, but a U.S. District Court judge in Boston ruled in July 2021 that most could proceed to trial.
Biogen 401(k) Savings Plan, Cambridge, Mass., had $2 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the latest Form 5500.