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Plan Fiduciaries Strike Quick Settlement in 403(b) Excessive Fee Suit


The parties in an excessive fee suit have struck a deal—mere months after the suit was filed.

The plan fiduciaries here are Springfield, Massachusetts-based Baystate Health Inc.—and they were sued just last Nov. 17 by participant-plaintiffs Michael Chechile and Sonia Lopez (who were represented by Paul Secunda of Walcheske & Luzi LLC). 

They claimed that the $910 million, 15,000 participant plan paid, on average, $70/participant for record-keeping fees (to Empower Retirement and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.), compared to those in similarly sized plans that allegedly paid $31/participant for what were said to be comparable services. They also alleged that the plan fiduciaries failed to regularly monitor and evaluate those services, accounting for that alleged disparity in fees.

That said, the parties now say (Michael Chechile et al. v. Baystate Health Inc. et al., case number 3:22-cv-30155, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts) they have come to terms, following a Feb. 10 mediation before a private mediator—where they reached a settlement in principle to resolve the matter. 

That joint status report, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, says that they “will draft the terms of a class action settlement agreement over the next several weeks, and Plaintiffs intend to file a motion for preliminary approval of the class action settlement no later than March 31, 2023.” 

At which time presumably we’ll (all) know what those terms are.