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November 22, 2023

District Court Finds Arbitration and Class Action Waiver Provision Enforceable in Retirement Plan

Spotlight on Benefits blog

The Eastern District of Kentucky recently became the latest court to weigh in on arbitration and class action waiver provisions in ERISA-governed defined contribution plans. In Merrow v. Horizon Bank, the court found such a provision enforceable and compelled arbitration of the plaintiffs’ ERISA breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims.

The three plaintiffs were former employees of P.L. Marketing (PLM), who were vested participants in the P.L. Marketing, Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan (the Plan). They filed an action against Horizon Bank, the Plan’s trustee, asserting that defendants violated ERISA by causing the Plan to overpay for company stock.  Plaintiffs brought three ERISA claims, arguing: 1) Horizon participated in a prohibited transaction; 2) Horizon breached its fiduciary duty as the Plan administrator; and 3) the selling shareholders knowingly participated in ERISA violations under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3).

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