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Emory Workers Seek $6.1 Million for Lawyers After Settlement

Aug. 3, 2020, 3:33 PM

The lawyers who negotiated a $16.75 million class settlement on behalf of 45,000 participants in Emory University’s retirement plan asked a federal judge in Atlanta to award them more than $6.1 million in fees and expenses.

Emory’s $16.75 million settlement is one of the largest to date in any lawsuit challenging a university’s retirement plan fees, attorneys with Schlichter Bogard & Denton LLP and Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers LLP said in a July 31 motion.

This “outstanding” result justifies a fee award of one-third the settlement amount, which is “market rate” for an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action, the attorneys told Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The lawsuit accused Emory of mismanaging its retirement plan by offering expensive investment options, charging excessive record-keeping fees, and failing to cut costs by consolidating service providers. Pannell declined to dismiss the case in 2017 and certified the case as a class action in 2018. The parties came to an agreement earlier this year after engaging in mediation with Hunter Hughes Alternative Dispute Resolution, a familiar face in high-profile retirement plan litigation that’s brokered recent deals in cases involving Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

More than 20 prominent colleges have been sued over their retirement plans since 2016, and the cases have garnered nearly $90 million in settlements. Other schools reaching settlements include Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($18.1 million), Vanderbilt University ($14.5 million), Johns Hopkins University ($14 million), Duke University ($10.65 million), the University of Chicago ($6.5 million), Princeton University ($5.8 million), and Brown University ($3.5 million).

Emory is represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Taylor English Duma LLP.

The case is Henderson v. Emory Univ., N.D. Ga., No. 1:16-cv-02920, motion for attorneys’ fees 7/31/20.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com