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Henderson v. Emory Univ.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division

September 13, 2018, Decided; September 13, 2018, Filed

CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-2920-CAP

Opinion

ORDER

The plaintiffs bring this action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461 ("ERISA"). Before the court is the plaintiffs' motion for class certification [Doc. No. 77] under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 23. The plaintiffs' motion also asks the court to appoint them as the class representatives and their attorneys as class counsel. After reviewing the record, the court enters the following order.

I. Background

The plaintiffs are participants and beneficiaries of two retirement plans sponsored by Emory University: the Emory University Retirement Plan (the "Retirement Plan") and the Emory Healthcare, Inc. Retirement Savings and Matching Plan (the "Healthcare Plan," and together with the Retirement Plan, the "Plans"). Each plan is in the largest [*3]  0.1% of all defined contribution plans in the United States based on asset size. As of December 31, 2015, the Plans had at least 45,000 total participants—around 22,000 in the Retirement Plan and 23,000 in the Healthcare Plan. Each Plan also had at least 10,000 participants since the beginning of the proposed class period (August 11, 2010).

The Plans provide participants with investment options to choose from for their individual accounts. Individual accounts are based on the value of the participant's contributions and investment earnings, and are charged a portion of the Plans' of administrative expenses. Overall, participants could select from among 111 different investment options from three vendors: TIAA, Fidelity, and Vanguard. These same three entities serve as recordkeepers for the Plans and are paid mostly through an asset-based revenue sharing structure.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants are the Plans' fiduciaries and bring claims against them under ERISA Section 502(a)(2), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2). That section permits participants and beneficiaries to bring suit under 29 U.S.C. § 1109(a), which holds plan fiduciaries personally liable for a breach of their duties under ERISA:

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2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180349 *

GENEVA HENDERSON, et al., Plaintiffs, v. EMORY UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Henderson v. Emory Univ., 252 F. Supp. 3d 1344, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142411 (N.D. Ga., May 10, 2017)

CORE TERMS

Plans, recordkeeping, plaintiffs', class member, certification, fiduciary, proposed class, named plaintiff, adequacy, class certification, defeat, rule requirements, commonality, court finds, conflicts, funds, fiduciary duty, options, courts, invest, retirement plan, adjudications, consolidation, numerosity, imprudent, defenses, losses, vendor, common question, ascertainable