Summary of Settlement
This litigation (the “Action”) is a class action in which Named Plaintiffs Adam Crawford, Lucia DePretto, and Megan Waier Bennett allege that the Defendants breached fiduciary duties owed to the participants in and beneficiaries of the Plan under ERISA by, among other things, failing to attempt to reduce the Plan’s expenses or and selecting for the Plan individual investment options that purportedly charged excessive fees compared to “similar” investment options available to the Plan. A copy of the Complaint as well as other documents filed in the Action are available on the Important Documents page or from Class Counsel. Defendants have denied and continue to deny all of the claims and allegations in the Action and deny any liability or wrongful conduct of any kind.
A Settlement Fund consisting of $1,800,000.00 (one million, eight hundred thousand U.S. dollars) in cash (the “Gross Settlement Amount”) is being established in the Action. The Gross Settlement Amount will be deposited into an escrow account, and the Gross Settlement Amount, together with any interest earned, will constitute the Settlement Fund. Payment of any taxes, approved attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses and payment of Case Contribution Awards to the Named Plaintiffs, and costs of administering the Settlement will be paid out of the Settlement Fund. After the payment of such fees, expenses, and awards, the amount that remains will constitute the Net Settlement Amount. The Net Settlement Amount will be allocated to Settlement Class members according to a Plan of Allocation to be approved by the Court.
STATEMENT OF POTENTIAL OUTCOME OF THE ACTION
Defendants strongly dispute the claims asserted in the Action and deny that they ever engaged in any wrongdoing, violation of law or breach of duty. Further, Named Plaintiffs would face an uncertain outcome if the Action were to continue. Although the Court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Action, this case was far from over. Prior to settling, Defendants’ motion to dismiss was scheduled for hearing. An unfavorable ruling for Plaintiffs on the motion would have severely diminished the value of this Action. Additionally, the Parties had yet to engage in expert discovery regarding the merits of the Action. Absent settlement, Defendants would present evidence that they reasonably and prudently managed the Plan’s investment options and fees and fulfilled all of their fiduciary obligations. As a result, continued litigation could result in a judgment in favor of the Defendants and against the Named Plaintiffs and Class. Even if the Named Plaintiffs and Class prevailed, they might recover a judgment greater or less than the benefits obtained as part of the Settlement, or no recovery at all.
The Named Plaintiffs and the Defendants disagree on liability and do not agree on the amount that would be recoverable even if the Named Plaintiffs were to prevail at trial. The Defendants deny all claims and contentions by the Named Plaintiffs. The Defendants deny that they are liable to the Settlement Class and that the Settlement Class or the Plan has suffered any damages for which the Defendants could be held legally responsible. Having considered the uncertainty, costs and risks inherent in any litigation, particularly in a complex case such as this, the Named Plaintiffs and Defendants have concluded that it is desirable that the Action be fully and finally settled on the terms and conditions set forth in the Settlement Agreement.
STATEMENT OF ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES SOUGHT IN THE ACTION
Class Counsel will apply to the Court for an order awarding attorneys’ fees not in excess of thirty percent (30%) of the Settlement Amount (a maximum amount of $540,000), plus reimbursement of expenses. Any amount awarded will be paid from the Settlement Fund. Defendants have no responsibility for payment of such fees and expenses.
WHAT WILL THE NAMED PLAINTIFFS GET?
The Named Plaintiffs will share in the allocation of the Net Settlement Amount on the same basis as all other members of the Settlement Class. In addition, the Named Plaintiffs will ask the Court to award up to $10,000 to each of the Named Plaintiffs as Case Contribution Awards for their participation in the Action and representation of the Settlement Class. Any such awards will be paid solely from the Settlement Fund.