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Washington University Settles Retirement Plan Suit, Joining List

March 1, 2022, 4:24 PM

Washington University in St. Louis will settle a lawsuit challenging its retirement plan fees and funds two years after the case was revived on appeal, the school and a proposed class of 27,000 employees told a Missouri federal judge.

The parties reached a deal following private mediation and plan to file a motion describing the settlement for court approval by April 15, they said Monday in a joint filing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The five-year-old lawsuit claims the university’s retirement plan pays excessive administrative fees and offers duplicative and poorly performing investment options. Judge Ronnie L. White dismissed the case in 2018, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit revived portions of the lawsuit in 2020.

Wash U is one of more than 20 prominent universities to be accused of mismanaging their retirement plans in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act since 2016. These cases have spawned nearly $120 million in settlements, one trial, four major appeals court rulings, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision reviving claims against Northwestern University.

The Wash U plan participants are represented by Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP; Berger Montague PC; Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP; Edelson Lechtzin LLP; Carey Danis & Lowe; and Edgar Law Firm LLC.

Wash U is represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Husch Blackwell LLP.

The case is Davis v. Wash. Univ. in St. Louis, E.D. Mo., No. 4:17-cv-01641, joint consent motion 2/28/22.

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