Benefits & Executive Compensation News

Andrus Wagstaff Fights Class Bid in Nationwide 401(k) Fee Suit

Feb. 28, 2019, 2:35 PM

Andrus Wagstaff PC, a mass tort personal injury law firm, urged a federal judge to deny class action status in a lawsuit by an investor in Andrus’s 401(k) plan who challenges fees charged by Nationwide Life Insurance Co.

The case can’t be a class action because it centers on the relationship between Nationwide and more than 7,000 individual retirement plan sponsors that aren’t parties to the litigation, Andrus said in its Feb. 27 motion. And there’s no relationship between those plan sponsors that would allow the investor to bring class claims involving all of their plans, Andrus said.

The lawsuit claims Nationwide’s practice of charging a flat, 1 percent fee for administrative services allowed the company to collect fees that were nearly 10 times the median fee throughout the industry. Nationwide at one point received $625 per investor, per year, for servicing a 401(k) plan covering fewer than 30 people, when a reasonable fee would have been closer to $64, according to the complaint.

Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied Nationwide’s motion to dismiss in August 2018, allowing the investor to support her allegations with survey data on 401(k) fees from NEPC LLC, an independent investment consulting group.

The investors are represented by Franklin D. Azar & Associates and Dyer Garofalo Mann & Schultz. Nationwide is represented by O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Carpenter & Lipps LLP. Andrus Wagstaff is represented by Lyon Firm.

The case is Brown v. Nationwide Life Ins. Co., S.D. Ohio, No. 2:17-cv-00558-ALM-CMV, motion to strike 2/27/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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