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Elise Klein Authors Daily Journal Article on Supreme Court ERISA Matter

Los Angeles, Calif. (July 21, 2021) - Los Angeles Partner and Chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Life Health Disability & ERISA Practice Elise D. Klein recently authored an article for the Daily Journal, titled “High Court Case Will Provide Guidance to ERISA Fiduciaries,” which discusses a matter in which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to provide guidance to Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciaries concerning how to administer pension plans in a prudent manner.

Ms. Klein opens the article by explaining that ERISA “requires fiduciaries of an employee benefit plan to discharge their duties ‘with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence’ that a similarly situated fiduciary would use.” She then describes the matter of Hughes v. Northwestern University, in which the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari. In this matter, which arose in Illinois, the plaintiffs argued that their pension plan trustees violated ERISA by (1) offering an excessive number of investment options, (2) choosing investment options with fees that were higher than alternative products, (3) choosing investments that underperformed, and (4) choosing investment options with high recordkeeping fees.

In addition, Ms. Klein points out that “there is no agreement among the circuit courts as to what conduct breaches a trustee’s fiduciary duty,” and that it is “unlikely that the Supreme Court will grant in full the relief sought by plaintiffs.” She ultimately opines that in adjudicating the claims in Hughes, the Court will likely “focus on the process followed by fiduciaries, and provide guidance as to the factors fiduciaries should consider – and carefully document – when offering investment options to plan participants.”

With more than two decades of experience in the insurance and health insurance law arenas, Ms. Klein has handled a wide array of complex matters. She has extensive experience in counseling clients on issues involving ERISA and various types of health insurance plans. Ms. Klein also represents clients in disability and life insurance disputes.

You may read the full Daily Journal article here (subscription may be required) or view a PDF version here.


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