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Kanawi v. Bechtel Corp.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

October 10, 2008, Decided; October 10, 2008, Filed

No. C 06-05566 CRB

Opinion

 [*105]  ORDER

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for Class Certification. Plaintiffs, Beverly Kanawi and Salvador Aquino, brought this action under ERISA on behalf of all current and former employees of Bechtel Corporation  [**3] who are participants in the company's 401(k) retirement plan. Plaintiffs advance claims for breaches of fiduciary duty against: (1) the Bechtel Corporation, which established the plan on behalf of its employees; (2) Peggi Knox, who works as Vice President of Retirement Plans at Bechtel; (3) a corporate committee appointed by Bechtel that administers the Plan ("the Committee"); and (4) Fremont Investment Advisors ("FIA"), a corporation that served as the primary advisor and service provider to Bechtel's Plan.

BACKGROUND

Bechtel offers a 401(k) retirement plan for its employees, pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). Third Am. Compl. P 1 (hereinafter "TAC"). The Committee, which comprises several Bechtel officers and employees appointed by the company, administers the Plan. Id. P 10. FIA originated from an in-house investment advisory and management  [*106]  division of Bechtel. Id. P 12. It became an independent corporation in 1986. Id.

The Bechtel Plan is a defined contribution plan in which separate accounts are maintained for each participant, and the retirement benefits each participant will receive are based on the amount of contributions to the participant's  [**4] account and the investment performance of those contributions. See 29 U.S.C. § 1002(34); TAC P 24. Plan participants have many investment options and exercise control over their individual accounts. See Knox Decl. P 3, Ex. B at 6-7.

The Plan operates under the auspices of a Master Trust. See TAC P 26. The Master Trust is a legal device that allows multiple ERISA plans to operate together under one corporate umbrella, thereby allowing plan participants to pool their resources and share the costs of running a retirement plan. See id. PP 25-27. Here, the Master Trust administers both Bechtel's Plan and a smaller plan related to another company ("the Becon Plan"), though Bechtel's Plan constitutes the lion's share of the assets managed under the Master Trust. Id. PP 26-27.

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254 F.R.D. 102 *; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85196 **

BEVERLY KANAWI, et al., Plaintiffs, v. BECHTEL CORP., et al., Defendants.

Subsequent History: Later proceeding at Kanawi v. Bechtel Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91227 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 17, 2008)

Prior History: Kanawi v. Bechtel Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76604 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 3, 2008)

CORE TERMS

Plaintiffs', class member, class certification, Defendants', fiduciary, commonality, fiduciary duty, plan participant, named plaintiff, certification, class action, retirement, breached, individual account, rule requirements, concealment, options, injunctive relief, adjudications, contributions, imprudent, certify, damages, parties