Transamerica ERISA Class Action

Case Description

Case Type: ERISA
Company Name: Transamerica

UPDATE: On July 9, 2021, a federal court granted preliminary approval of the ERISA class action settlement, whereby Transamerica has agreed to create a $5,400,000 settlement fund and to meaningful prospective non-monetary relief. The hearing for final approval of the settlement will be held on November 19, 2021.

The parties executed the settlement agreement after they had conducted significant fact and expert discovery and participated in an all-day mediation session with an independent mediator. If approved, this class settlement would end the ERISA class action filed by six plaintiffs in December 2018, which had accused the Plan’s fiduciaries of retaining several poorly performing investment options for the Plan. The case was certified as a class action in March 2020.

Under the terms of the proposed Settlement, Transamerica will pay $5.4 million into a settlement fund which will be allocated pro rata among the class pursuant to a Plan of Allocation. In addition, Transamerica has agreed to provide annual fiduciary training to Plan fiduciaries and to continue to retain an unaffiliated investment consultant to provide independent consulting services to Plan fiduciaries.

Charles Field, Chair of the firm’s Financial Services Litigation Practice, added “this settlement provides class members with an outstanding result of Transamerica adding money to their retirement savings in the Plan.”

The settlement covers about 25,000 investors who participated in Transamerica Corporation’s 401k Plan from December 28, 2012, through the date that the deal is finally approved.

We would like to hear from any Transamerica employee who invested in the company’s 401(k) plan during the past 6 years.

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Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP filed a class action complaint on December 28th in the U.S. District Court of Northern Iowa detailing the ways in which the Transamerica Corporation violates basic fiduciary duties under ERISA and abuses its employees’ trust by mismanaging their retirement funds. The complaint alleges the company invests employees’ retirement savings in multiple funds that consistently underperform their investment benchmarks and other similar collective investment funds. The consequences to employees are substantial: the Transamerica 401(k) Plan has cost its employees millions of dollars in retirement savings.

Plaintiffs Jeremy Karg, Matthew R. LaMarche, and Shirley Rhodes each filed the case individually and as representatives of approximately 17,000 Plan participants in Transamerica Corporation’s $1.7 billion 401(k) Plan (“Plan”). Named as Defendants are the Transamerica Corporation and the committees and their members that provide investment advice and services to the Plan.
David Sanford, chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp and counsel for Plaintiffs and the proposed class, noted, “ERISA’s fiduciary standards are strict and exacting. Transamerica retained too many poor-performing investment options on the Plan which were highly detrimental to the retirement savings of Plan participants. Transamerica and the committees should be held to the highest standard as fiduciaries; but in this case they fall below the lowest standard.”

The complaint describes how thousands of Transamerica employees and former employees invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the company’s Plan. Given the company’s investment sophistication and extensive assets, employees trust Transamerica to construct a stellar retirement plan. Yet, according to the complaint, Transamerica saddled the Plan’s participants with substandard investment options that were managed by a Transamerica affiliate, Transamerica Asset Management. Accordingly, Plaintiffs claim, Transamerica fails to prudently select investment options and monitor their performance as required by ERISA. As a result, Transamerica causes the Plan, and its participants, to suffer staggering losses.

Charles Field, a partner at Sanford Heisler and counsel for Plaintiffs and the proposed class, added, “As a fiduciary to the Plan, Transamerica is obligated to monitor its Plan to ensure the Plan’s investments are prudent. Transamerica neglected these sacrosanct duties.”

Plaintiffs and the class seek compensation for financial losses to Plan participants and beneficiaries resulting from the Plan’s underperforming investments; divestiture of imprudent investments; and the removal of the fiduciaries who have violated their duties to the Plan’s participants and beneficiaries under ERISA.

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Our Team

David SanfordDavid Sanford
Washington, DC

Judge Kevin SharpJudge Kevin Sharp
Co-Vice Chairman
Nashville, TN

Charles FieldCharles Field
San Diego Partner
San Diego, CA

Alexandra HarwinAlexandra Harwin
New York Partner
New York, NY

David TraceyDavid Tracey
New York Partner
New York, NY

Shaun RosenthalShaun Rosenthal
Washington, DC

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