A federal judge in Allentown, Pa., ruled a lawsuit by former employees against fiduciaries of a B. Braun Medical Inc. 401(k) plan may go to trial.
U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith on April 21 rejected a motion for summary judgment against the plaintiffs in Nunez et al. vs. B. Braun Medical Inc. et al.
A motion for summary judgment is usually filed after the parties have completed discovery, giving a judge the opportunity to review details of a case. A motion to dismiss, usually requested soon after a complaint is filed, argues the plaintiff has failed to state a claim.
Mr. Smith had dismissed several ERISA allegations against the defendants in June 2021, leaving only the complaint that the plan's retirement committee breached its fiduciary duty of prudence.
In his April 21 ruling, the judge dismissed as defendants B. Braun Medical Inc., the company's board of directors and unnamed executives.
The retirement committee sought summary judgment "arguing that the factual record does not support the existence of a breach of duty of prudence," Mr. Smith wrote. "Nevertheless, because there are genuine issues of material facts regarding the reasonableness of both the committee's process and actions as the plaintiffs' fiduciary, the court denies the motion for summary judgment."
Mr. Smith added that his decision was based on both sides having provided "numerous facts of material value supported by the record that create genuine issues in need of being resolved by a factfinder."
The former employees sued in August 2020, contending that the Braun 401(k) plan "had substantial bargaining power regarding the fees and expenses that were charged against participants' investments," the original complaint said.
B. Braun Medical Inc. Savings Plan, Bethlehem, Pa., had $906 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the latest Form 5500.