Richard J. Pearl Richard J. Pearl

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Rick Pearl focuses his practice on litigation involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). He represents companies, their benefits committees, plan administrators, fiduciaries, and service providers in complex, class-action litigation and Department of Labor lawsuits, audits, and investigations.  His particular expertise is with actions for breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transactions. Read Rick Pearl's full bio. 

Ninth Circuit Answers Some Questions About Arbitration of ERISA Claims


By on Sep 5, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

In two opinions—one published and one unpublished—the Ninth Circuit overturned prior precedent and held that a Plan amendment requiring arbitration meant that an individual had to arbitrate, on an individual basis, purported class claims alleging imprudent and disloyal management of 401(k) investments. This decision, although unpublished, provides support for plans wishing to add binding arbitration...

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Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to ESOP Transaction


By and on Aug 13, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), Fiduciary and Investment Issues

In Lee v. Argent Trust Co., the court dismissed ERISA claims challenging an ESOP stock transaction because the plaintiff, who “fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the” ESOP transaction, did not allege that she suffered any injury. This decision is important to educate other courts about economics, particularly in cases where plaintiffs rely on little more than...

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Kruse-Western Wins Partial Dismissal in ERISA Lawsuit over $244 Million Stock Sale


By and on Aug 6, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), Retirement Plans

The federal court affirmed ERISA’s limitations on the types of claims and remedies available under ERISA. This well-reasoned decision affords Congress the deference it deserves by limiting claims and remedies only to those Congress intended to provide in ERISA. Access the full story.

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Big ERISA Decisions on the Horizon—SCOTUS to Review Third ERISA Case this Term


By , , and on Jul 23, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The US Supreme Court recently agreed to review the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Thole v. US Bank, in which the Eighth Circuit held that participants in an overfunded defined benefit pension plan lack standing to sue for fiduciary breaches under ERISA. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case—the third ERISA case accepted by the court...

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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Sulyma v. Intel Statute-of-Limitations Decision


By and on Jun 18, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Sulyma v. Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee, a case in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to actually read materials in order to start the running of ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations. ERISA § 413(2) bars actions more than...

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Former Employee’s Release Agreement Bars ERISA Claim Against ESOP Fiduciary


By and on May 21, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

A recent summary-judgment decision explains how individual releases can bar the individual from pursuing ERISA fiduciary-breach claims on behalf of the plan. A plan, employer or fiduciary that wants to ensure a release that includes ERISA claims on behalf of a plan should consider language that addresses the court’s areas of inquiry in the case,...

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Oracle Granted Partial Summary Judgment in 401(k) Fees/Investment Option Case


By and on Apr 2, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues

The US District Court for the District of Colorado granted partial summary judgment to 401(k) fiduciaries, holding that ERISA’s six-year statute of repose barred some claims and rejecting challenges to the plan’s fees. Access the full article.

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ERISA Health Plan Fiduciaries Defeat DOL’s Excessive Fee Claims


By , and on Mar 26, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Health and Welfare Plans

In one of the first ERISA cases to address claims against fiduciaries for excessive health plan fees, the court entered judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts. The decision addresses health plan fiduciary standards for reviewing plan fees and expenses. Access the full article.

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Still No Right to Jury Trial – MIT 401(k) Plan Participants Not Entitled to Jury Trial of ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims


By and on Mar 12, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The District of Massachusetts court struck the plaintiffs’ jury-trial demand in their ERISA complaint for damages and equitable relief against 401(k) plan fiduciaries. The court followed the “great weight of authority” in ruling that there is no right to trial by jury in ERISA actions for breach of fiduciary duty. Access the full article.

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Piling On: Corporations Support the New York Times in Multiemployer Pension Calculation Dispute


By , , and on Feb 19, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

Several large employers are disputing how much money the New York Times owes a union multiemployer pension fund. Recently, six companies—including US Foods Inc. and United Natural Foods Inc.—filed an amicus brief supporting the New York Times in its case before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ruprecht Co., an Illinois meat...

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