A federal judge in San Francisco issued a split ruling on a complaint against Genentech and its Roche subsidiary, granting dismissal on some – but not all – allegations of ERISA violations by fiduciaries of a Roche 401(k) plan.
Monday's ruling is the second time U.S. District William H. Orrick issued an opinion on the defendants' request to dismiss the complaint. In February, he supported their motion to dismiss all allegations, but he also gave the plaintiff — a plan participant — the opportunity to amend the complaint.
The plaintiff's "excessive fee claim based on the Roche plan's unreasonably high record keeping and administrative fees is plausible pleaded," the judge wrote Monday, as he rejected the defendants' motion to dismiss in the case of Matthew Wehner vs. Genentech Inc. et al.
"He has pleaded enough circumstantial evidence for me to draw the reasonable inference that defendants did not act prudently to ensure that the Roche plan's fees were reasonable," wrote the judge is discussing Mr. Wehner's allegation. "Discovery with respect to the plausibly alleged excessive fee claim ... may proceed."
However, the judge agreed to dismiss the allegation that plan fiduciaries violated their ERISA obligations in retaining a custom target date series.
He also agreed to dismiss the plaintiff's allegation that fiduciaries violated the ERISA duty-of-loyalty standard, pointing out that this complaint lacked "factual allegations plausibly suggesting" self-dealing by defendants.
The U.S. Roche 401(k) Savings Plan, South San Francisco, Calif., had assets of $9.39 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019, according to the latest Form 5500.