• In In re Lockheed Martin Corp., Nos. 09-8019, 09-8022, 2011 WL 880760 (7th Cir. Mar. 15, 2011), the court granted defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) petition to decertify a class of ERISA 401(k) plan participants who alleged that defendants breached their fiduciary duties by causing the plan to pay excessive fees. The Seventh Circuit found that because the district court’s class certification determinations raised issues substantially similar to those addressed in Spano v. The Boeing Co., Nos. 09-3001 & 09-3018, 2011 WL 183974 (7th Cir. Jan. 21, 2011) and Howell v. Motorola, Inc., Nos. 07-3837 & 09-2796, 2011 WL 183966 (7th Cir. Jan. 21, 2011), additional proceedings in the district court were necessary on the question of class certification, and the case was therefore remanded to the district court.
  • In Wilson v. Farmers Group Inc. Employees’ Profit Sharing Savings Plan Trust, No. 10-cv-05089 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 18, 2011), the district court certified a class of profit-sharing plan participants with respect to their claims that the plan should have credited them for the overtime they were awarded in a separate wage and hour litigation. In so ruling, the court rejected the argument that the participants who had withdrawn assets from the profit-sharing plan were not proper class members, while limiting the class to the participants who had not released their claims.
  • In Clemons v. Norton Health Care Inc. Retirement Plan, --- F.R.D. ----, No. 08-69-C, 2011 WL 652470 (W.D. Ky. Feb, 23, 2011), the district court certified a class of retirement plan participants as to claims that their benefits were miscalculated by using a non-increasing annuity, failing to offer a “212” alternative form of lump-sum benefit, and improperly reducing early retirement benefits. The court also refused to dismiss the claims based on the participants’ failure to exhaust their administrative remedies, ruling that exhaustion would have been futile because the plan failed to respond to the named plaintiffs’ claims for recalculation of their benefits.
  • In Shanehchian v. Macy’s Inc., No. 07 Civ. 0828, 2011 WL 883659 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 10, 2011), the district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in this ERISA “stock-drop” lawsuit. Macy’s argued, among other things, that plaintiffs could not satisfy the typicality requirement for class certification because of the individual nature of: (1) detrimental reliance on the alleged misrepresentations, (2) the transaction-by-transaction 404(c) defense, (3) releases signed by thousands of purported class members, and (4) “risk” determinations based on each person’s investment portfolio. The court, reasoning that these types of ERISA claims are brought on behalf of the plans, focused on the conduct of the defendants, and not the individual class members. The court found that these individual issues did not defeat typicality of the claims or prevent class certification.
  • In Murphy v. Verizon Communications Inc., No. 3:09-CV-2262-G (N.D. Tex. Mar. 3, 2011), the district court certified a class of more than 1,000 retired former participants in Verizon’s pension plans who were transferred into Idearc’s pension plans during a spin-off transaction. The plaintiffs allege that the involuntary transfer was without their consent and that, under ERISA, they are entitled to the benefits that they would have received if they had remained participants in Verizon’s pension plans. The court found that there were common questions of law and fact regarding whether the terms of the Verizon pension plans allowed for the controversial transfer of the retired former participants to Idearc’s pension plans.