Clark Graphics ordered to restore worker retirement plans

A federal judge has ordered Mary Clark, president of Clark Graphics, in Columbus, Ohio, to restore $505,551 to the company’s two employee retirement plans following a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Under the settlement, Marcia Dowdell, president of Pension Retirement Planning who acted as the administrator for the plans, must restore funds to both plans.

According to the DOL lawsuit, there was insufficient oversight and mishandling of plan assets, which ended in multiple violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and Clark Graphics’ owners did not adequately perform their fiduciary responsibilities as plan trustees when they failed to monitor the actions of the plans’ administrator as well as review and reconcile the plans’ trust account statements, review participant distribution calculations and require the administrator to issue participant statements. The judgment also states that Dowdell did not maintain accurate records for participants in both plans, resulting in some participants not receiving the correct retirement benefits.

“Employers that sponsor retirement plans have a fiduciary duty to monitor plan assets and ensure they are handled appropriately and protected,” says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. “Contracting with an outside firm to manage those assets does not absolve them of their legal responsibilities. Congress made it clear long ago that money set aside for retirement is much too important to mishandle, abuse or neglect, and enacted strict protections with respect to workers’ hard-earned savings.”

Under the order, all plan losses based on the defendants liability along with interest must be restored as Mary must pay $142,797.23 to Clark Graphics’ defined benefit plan and $362,754.23 to Clark Graphics’ profit-sharing plan. Mary and James Clark, another owner, are barred from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA.

Dowdell must also restore the profit-sharing plan by a total of $425,586.73 and cannot serve as a fiduciary or service provider to any ERISA-covered plan moving forward.

“Employees should be assured that those who are entrusted with the assets of their retirement plans will be held accountable,” says L. Joe Rivers, director of EBSA’s Cincinnati Regional Office. “The Labor Department will continue to fight for workers when fiduciaries fail in their responsibilities to properly administer employee benefit plans.”



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