Economic Analysis in ERISA Litigation At A Glance

Capabilities and Services

In the last quarter century, employee benefit plans, especially 401(k) defined-contribution retirement plans, have become increasingly important as a means for saving for retirement and other purposes. Historically, litigation has arisen when stock or bond market fluctuations have imposed losses on these plans. The current financial crisis is no exception, and ERISA litigation over losses in these plans is once again on the rise. These losses typically relate to retirement plans containing employer stock in companies hit hard by the crisis. Shareholders may also pursue litigation over other poorly performing investments in 401(k) plans. In addition, crisis-related retirement plan disputes have arisen over such issues as the investment of cash collateral held in securities-lending programs.

Experts in NERA's Securities and Finance Practice have deep expertise in addressing the financial questions at issue in ERISA litigation, including prudence and reasonableness of decisions by fiduciaries, disclosure of information to plan participants, and estimation of losses to a plan or to its participants from alleged wrongdoing. In some cases, allegations are closely related to allegations in parallel shareholder class actions. In other cases, the allegations center on the retention of employer stock as an investment despite events (such as imminent bankruptcy) that heightened the risk of that stock. NERA's experts have also analyzed issues of allegedly excessive fees in 401(k) plans.