On June 28, 2021, the United States Secretary of Labor filed an amicus curiae brief in support of reconsideration of a portion of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Bafford v. Northrop Grumman Corp., in which Renaker Hasselman Scott represents the Plaintiffs/Appellants along with co-counsel Kantor & Kantor LLP. The Bafford plaintiffs’ claims arise from overstatements of their pension benefits that were communicated to them for many years before their retirements, and that continued even after they began receiving their pensions.
In Bafford, the Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims against the Administrative Committee of the Northrop Grumman Pension Plan for violations of ERISA Section 105, which requires that an ERISA plan administrator provide pension benefit statements, and against Alight Solutions LLC for professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation under California state law. However, the Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims against the Administrative Committee for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. The Ninth Circuit based its decision on an Interpretive Bulletin issued by the Department of Labor in 1975.
The Bafford plaintiffs seek rehearing as to the dismissal of their breach of fiduciary duty claim. The Secretary of Labor’s brief supports this request, arguing that the Ninth Circuit panel’s decision on this point “rests on a fundamental misconception of fiduciary status under ERISA and the Department of Labor’s interpretive bulletin.”
Read the Secretary’s brief here.
Read the Bafford opinion here.