Juniper Networks Inc. will pay $3 million to settle an ERISA lawsuit filed by participants in a company 401(k) plan who alleged, among other things, that plan fiduciaries charged "unreasonable" record-keeping fees and unreasonably high managed account fees, according to a Nov. 11 filing in a U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.
The parties reported Sept. 15 that they had reached an agreement in principle in Reichert et al. vs. Juniper Networks et al., but they didn't disclose the terms at that time.
"Each defendant specifically denies the allegations that it breached any fiduciary duty or any other provisions of ERISA in connection with the administration of the plan, the administrative fees or expenses incurred by the plan, or the investments in the plan, at any time, and further denies that it in any way failed to act prudently or loyally as to the plan's participants and beneficiaries," the settlement document said.
The participants sued in August 2021 and later amended their complaint to also include allegations that fiduciaries didn't adequately review the plan's investment lineup for costs, kept certain investments that were more expensive and/or worse-performing than similar or identical options in the marketplace and failed to provide adequate investment information to participants.
U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected in April 2022 a petition by the defendants to dismiss the case, and he must approve the settlement.
"When the benefits conferred by the settlement are weighed against the attendant risks of continuing to prosecute the action, plaintiffs' counsel believe that the settlement represents a reasonable and fair resolution of the claims of the settlement class," the settlement document said.
Current and former participants in the plan from Aug. 11, 2015, through the preliminary court approval of the settlement are covered by the agreement.
The Juniper Networks Inc. 401(k) Plan, Sunnyvale, Calif., had $1.9 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the latest Form 5500.