Case Type: ERISA
Company Name: General Electric
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 27, 2017 — Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP today filed an ERISA individual and class action against General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), General Electric Retirement Savings Plan (“the Plan”) Trustees, and 30 unnamed defendants in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
The Complaint asserts that GE and the Plan violated the Federal Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) by breaching their fiduciary duties and engaging in prohibited transactions and unlawful self-dealing detrimental to the three named plaintiffs individually and as representatives of a class. Kristi Haskins and Laura Scully of San Diego, and Donald J. Janak of Carrolton, Texas are the individual named plaintiffs.
The Sanford Heisler Sharp legal team is led by Charles H. Field and Edward Chapin in the firm’s San Diego office, Kevin H. Sharp in the firm’s Nashville office, David Sanford in the firm’s Washington D.C. office and David Tracey in the firm’s New York office.
The lawsuit cites five funds GE managed under the Plan as causing harm in the proposed class period of January 1, 2011 through June 30, 2016: the GE Institutional International Equity Fund (“International Fund”); GE Institutional Strategic Investment Fund (“Strategic Fund”); GE RSP U.S. Equity Fund (“RSP Equity Fund”); GE RSP U.S. Income Fund (“RSP Income Fund”) (collectively, “GE Funds”); and GE Institutional Small Cap Equity Fund (“Small Cap Fund”).
“GE and the Plan’s trustees were obligated by law to act for the exclusive benefit of Plan participants and beneficiaries,” said Charles Field. “ERISA required them to select prudent investments, monitor the investments’ performance, and modify the Plan’s investment options to maximize the benefits to the participants and beneficiaries. Instead, they selected poor-to-mediocre-performing investments, and managed and administered them in ways that harmed the participants and beneficiaries.”
According to the filing, the named plaintiffs are among nearly 250,000 GE employees participating in the Plan during the class period who were victimized by these ERISA violations. Each year, GE employees collectively invested billions of dollars in the Plan. The Complaint notes GE earned significant revenues and profits from management fees charged to Plan participants during this period, regardless of how the funds performed.
“There is evidence of tainted self-interest as GE prioritized company profits over its fiduciary duty to the Plan’s participants,” said David Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “The financial well-being of GE employees does not seem to have been on GE’s radar.”
The complaint asks the Court to certify the proposed Class, appoint the named Plaintiffs as Class Representatives, and appoint Sanford Heisler Sharp as Class Counsel. It asks that the Court find that GE breached its fiduciary duty, and require GE to make the Plan whole for the $700 million in losses resulting from each breach, as well as to restore the Plan to the position it would now hold if the breaches had not occurred.
In addition, the Plaintiffs request the Court to: determine the method by which Plan losses should be calculated; order defendants to provide all accounting necessary to determine the amounts they must make good to the Plan; remove fiduciaries who have breached their duties; reform the Plan so that it complies with ERISA; and levy a surcharge against the defendants for amounts involved in improper, excessive or illegal transactions.