In Tibble v Edison International, Plaintiffs brought fiduciary duty claims against Edison International for alleged mismanagement of Edison’s 401(k) Plan. Plaintiffs’ claims centered upon the fact that the Plan’s investment committee selected retail-class shares for the Plan when comparable lower-cost institutional-class shares were available. Plaintiffs attempted to challenge the committee’s initial decision to include the retail-class shares in 1999 under a “continuing violation” theory as a result of the committee’s alleged failure to remove the retail-class shares through prudent monitoring. Plaintiffs’ theory was based on the premise that the effects of the initial decision to include retail-class shares continued in time as to toll the limitations period for bringing suit. The Ninth Circuit rejected that theory and held that Plaintiffs’ fiduciary duty claims relating to the committee’s initial selection of retail-class shares were barred under ERISA’s six-year limitations period. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether ERISA’s six-year limitation period under § 413 bars Plaintiffs’ claims.

In its brief supporting Edison, DRI agrees that the Ninth Circuit got it right: ERISA’s statute of repose unquestionably bars Petitioners’ claims. But DRI’s brief focuses on the potential effect of the Court’s decision on benefit claims under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B). DRI requests in its brief that the Court keep in mind that Petitioners’ claims for breach of fiduciary duty are very different from claims for individual recovery of benefits under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B). In the event the Court considers Petitioners’ “continuing violation” theory to toll accrual of Petitioners’ fiduciary duty claims, the Court’s decision should be crafted to avoid affecting benefit claims under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B).

The DRI amicus brief in Tibble v Edison International was authored by BABC attorneys Scott Burnett Smith, Edmund Sauer, and Mary Ann Couch, which can be found on the DRI Amicus Committee website.

Read DRI’s press release regarding the amicus brief filed before the United States Supreme Court.