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More Lawsuits Filed over ERISA Plan During Recession

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St. Louis, MOThe amount of lawsuits associated with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) have increased significantly since the beginning of the recession, the Rockford Register Star reports.

According to data from the US District Court, 9,300 lawsuits related to ERISA were filed in the country during the 12-month span that ended on March 31, 2010. While that number is lower than the nearly 11,500 lawsuits in 2004, it represents a significant increase since the beginning of the recession, according to the news provider.

Lawsuits related to ERISA include a number of different issues ranging from retirement to healthcare plans, according to the news provider. The recent increase in litigation, however, is a direct result of the market decline in 2008.

"The dramatic decline in the share prices of many publicly traded corporations in 2007 and 2008 seems to have spawned a noticeable uptick in lawsuits against pension plans that invest in the stock of the sponsoring employers," Peter Wiedenbeck, a law professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, told the news provider.

According to the US Department of Labor, ERISA is a "federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans."


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What percentage of the claims are actually claims for breach of fiduciary duty regarding plan investments, as opposed to individual benefits claims; e.g., long-term disability, disputes over severance benefits, etc.? Absent such specificity, the conclusion in the article is not valid. It may or may not be the case, but the number of ERISA lawsuits overall doesn't prove it.

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Fiduciary info


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