PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 6

RULES & REGULATIONS
Hughes v. Northwestern Ruling
O
n January 24, the U.S. Supreme
Court filed a ruling in an
Employee Retirement Income
Security Act lawsuit known as Hughes v.
Northwestern University. In the days since,
expert attorneys have offered perspective
on just what the ruling means-and does
not mean-for the many other examples
of ERISA excessive fee litigation making
their way through the federal court system.
The ruling technically sided with
the plaintiffs and remanded the case back
to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for
reconsideration that more strictly adheres
to the pleading precedents set in another
Supreme Court ruling, Tibble v. Edison.
The consensus among ERISA defense
attorneys, however, is that the Hughes ruling
may indeed be limited in its influence.
For their part, the plaintiffs' attorneys
in the case, who work for the law
firm Schlichter Bogard & Denton, say
the ruling affirms that ERISA fiduciaries
of all retirement plans, including 401(k)
and 403(b) plans, have a duty " to monitor
continually every investment option in a
plan and remove any imprudent ones. "
In the view of Nancy Ross, a Chicagobased
partner in, and co-chair of, Mayer
Brown's ERISA litigation practice, the
new Hughes ruling might not turn out to
be as influential as some have assumed.
" Despite some of the early headlines that
have already been written suggesting this
case is a really big deal, in fact, I view this
as a limited ruling, " Ross says. " What I
mean is that the Supreme Court did not
reach any specific or detailed conclusions
that any of the investments offered by the
defendants in this case are actually inappropriate,
nor did the justices come down
and say a fiduciary [may] never offer retail
6 PLANSPONSOR.COM February - March 2022 Art by Anja Sušanj
shares of funds within its institutional
retirement plans. Instead, what they said,
in a nutshell, is that the 7th Circuit simply
did not give enough consideration of the
duty-to-monitor precedents set by Tibble. "
Ross says the straightforward discussion
in the SCOTUS ruling, which
stretches to only about eight pages, can
actually offer some peace of mind to plan
fiduciaries. They can now be even more
sure of the exact scope of their duties
when it comes to monitoring the investment
menu-and that the offering of a
significant range of choice to plan participants
is not in itself a legal shield.
" Fiduciaries can look at this ruling
with their legal advisers and decide if
there is anything pressing that they can
learn from it with respect to their own
plan, " she suggests.
Ross says she takes some additional
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PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022

INSIGHTS
INDUSTRY ANALYSIS
RULES & REGULATIONS
UPFRONT
Let’s Talk
Let It Grow
When Workers Retire in Stages
Virtual Lessons Learned
Managed Accounts, Today
How ‘Well’ Is ‘Well’ Enough?
Differentiation by Income
FIDUCIARY FORUM
INSIDE ANGLE
PLAN PROFILE
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Cover1
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Cover2
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 1
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - INSIGHTS
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 3
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - INDUSTRY ANALYSIS
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 5
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - RULES & REGULATIONS
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 7
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 8
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 9
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - UPFRONT
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 11
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 12
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 13
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 14
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 15
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 16
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 17
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Let’s Talk
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 19
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 20
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 21
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Let It Grow
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 23
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 24
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 25
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - When Workers Retire in Stages
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 27
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 28
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 29
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Virtual Lessons Learned
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 31
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Managed Accounts, Today
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 33
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - How ‘Well’ Is ‘Well’ Enough?
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 35
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Differentiation by Income
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - 37
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - FIDUCIARY FORUM
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - INSIDE ANGLE
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - PLAN PROFILE
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Cover3
PLANSPONSOR - February - March 2022 - Cover4
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