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NAFA, DOL Drop Fiduciary Ruling Appeal

An appeal of a decision supporting the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule won’t have its day in court, after all.

The Labor Department and the National Association for Fixed Annuities have stipulated and agreed to a “voluntary dismissal” of an appeal pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Last November, NAFA persuaded the court to temporarily suspend the oral argument that was set for Dec. 8.

Up until that point, NAFA hadn’t enjoyed much success with the decisions of that court on the merits, or in its motions for delays or preliminary injunctions. In fairness, NAFA’s last motion was unopposed by the Labor Department – and it was granted because NAFA had said in its motion that many of the same legal issues before the court had been under consideration by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since July 2017 – and that a decision was anticipated shortly.

‘Taking’ the 5th?

“Shortly” in this case didn’t come until March 15, when the 5th Circuit handed the fiduciary rule its first loss in court. Indeed, only the week before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit backed the Labor Department’s authority in a specific aspect of the fiduciary rule.

Interestingly enough, NAFA’s request to postpone the appeal noted that the 5th Circuit’s decision, along with the Labor Department’s current examination of the impact (and potential revision) of the fiduciary rule, “may obviate the need for this appeal.”

Following the 5th Circuit’s ruling, the Labor Department announced that, “pending further review, the Department will not be enforcing the fiduciary rule.”