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United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
January 20, 2022, Decided; January 20, 2022, Entered on Docket
Civil Action No. 21-22986-Civ-Scola
In this Employee Retirement Income Security Act breach-of-fiduciary-duty case, the Defendants filed three motions when responding to the complaint: a motion to compel [*2] arbitration, a motion to stay, and a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). (ECF Nos. 17, 18, 19.) The Court here addresses only the Defendants' motion to compel arbitration,1 to which the Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 31) and the Defendants filed a reply in support (ECF No. 35). After careful review of the briefing and the relevant legal authorities, the Court grants the motion. (ECF No. 17.)
Baptist Health South Florida, Inc. employs approximately 23,000 people and, in 1989, created a 403(b) employee retirement plan (the "Plan") to facilitate employee retirement savings. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 33, 53-54); (ECF No. 17-1 at 10.) The Plan is a defined contribution plan where each participant has a separate account based on the amounts individually contributed. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 55.) The Plaintiffs, who purport to bring this action on behalf of themselves, the Plan, and a putative class of similarly-situated individuals, each participated in the Plan. (Id. at ¶ 31.) The Plaintiffs allege that during the Class Period—February 3, 2015 to the date of judgment—the Defendants, each a fiduciary of the Plan, breached their fiduciary duties by failing to review and contain costs and [*3] by investing in high-cost investment funds despite the availability of similar funds with lower costs or better performance histories. (Id. at 2 n.2, ¶ 20.)
In 2020, the Plan was amended to include, in relevant part, an arbitration agreement. (ECF No. 17-1 at 67.) This amendment was made pursuant to the Plan Sponsor's express, unilateral ability to amend the Plan. (Id. at 47-48, 67.) The arbitration clause provides that "[a]ny claim . . . which arises out of, relates to, or concerns the Plan . . . shall be resolved exclusively by binding arbitration[.]" (Id. at 67.) The arbitration agreement forbids arbitrations brought on a representative or class basis. (Id. at 68.) Moreover, it precludes individuals that bring an arbitration claim from receiving "remedial or equitable relief" that provides "additional benefits or monetary relief to any person . . . other than the Claimant[.]" (Id.)
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2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10834 *; 2022 WL 180638
Lawanda Holmes and others, Plaintiffs, v. Baptist Health South Florida, Inc. and others, Defendants.
arbitration, arbitration agreement, arbitration clause, vindication, effective, fiduciary, Plan-wide, additional benefit, courts, agreed to arbitrate, monetary relief, class action, unilateral, claimant, remedies, binding