The settlement, which is expected to benefit about 11,000 participants in the Land O’Lakes 401(k) plan, represents about 20% of the participants’ maximum estimated damages of $9 million, according to the Monday filing. It also requires Land O’Lakes to seek proposals for a new plan record keeper within three years.
The deal comes one year after Judge David S. Doty allowed the participants to proceed with their attempt to hold Land O’Lakes plan fiduciaries liable for failing to investigate and choose cheaper institutional share classes of the plan’s investment funds. Doty also greenlighted claims challenging the Land O’Lakes plan’s record-keeping and administrative fees.
The parties reached a deal after a private mediation session last fall, according to the filing.
About 150 lawsuits challenging 401(k) plan fees have been filed over the past two years. The $1.8 million figure is in line with other recent settlements, including those signed by global chemical distributor Brenntag North America Inc. ($2.3 million), Massachusetts-based Southcoast Hospitals Group Inc. ($2 million), Philadelphia engineering firm CDI Corp. ($1.8 million), and defense contractor ManTech International Corp. ($1.2 million).
The Land O’Lakes employees are represented by Capozzi Adler PC and Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, which stand to receive one-third of the settlement amount—nearly $600,000—in attorneys’ fees if the deal is approved.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Dorsey & Whitney LLP represent Land O’Lakes.
The case is Parmer v. Land O’Lakes, Inc., D. Minn., No. 0:20-cv-01253, settlement motion 2/28/22.