A federal judge in Green Bay, Wis., dismissed a complaint against Faith Technologies Inc. and its 401(k) plan fiduciaries filed by a plan participant who alleged several ERISA violations.
"The complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and is dismissed," wrote U.S. District Court Judge William C. Griesbach on Dec. 2 in Genna Laabs vs. Faith Technologies Inc. et al. However, Mr. Griesbach said the plaintiff, a former employee, could file an amended complaint within 30 days of his ruling.
The defendants were sued in October 2020 for allegedly causing the plan to pay "unreasonably high fees for record keeping and administration" and for failing to "objectively, reasonably, and adequately review the plan's investment portfolio with due care to ensure that each investment option was prudent, in terms of cost," the original complaint said. It also accused plan fiduciaries of "maintaining certain funds in the plan despite the availability of identical or similar investment options with lower costs."
Mr. Griesbach was acting on a Nov. 9 report by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Dries, Milwaukee, recommending dismissal but adding that the plaintiff could file an amended complaint.
Mr. Dries wrote that an August ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Chicago, established standards for lower-court judges in its jurisdiction — Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana — to assess whether ERISA cases should be dismissed or allowed to go to trial.
The appeals court judges ruled for the sponsor-defendant in Albert vs. Oshkosh Corp. and backed a September 2021 dismissal by a U.S. District Court in Green Bay, Wis., of the lawsuit accusing the Oshkosh 401(k) plan of charging excessive record-keeping fees and expensive investment options.
"Like the complaint in Albert, the complaint in this case does not provide the necessary context to support a plausible record-keeping claim," Mr. Dries wrote.
"In Albert, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a nearly identical investment management claim" made against Faith Technologies, he wrote. "Albert makes clear that this court should dismiss Laabs' high-cost investment management claim."
The Faith Technologies Inc. 401(k) Retirement Plan, Menasha, Wis., had $271 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2020, according to the latest Form 5500.