Judges nixes retired Marriott workers’ class certification over deferred stock plan

A federal judge has denied Marriott International workers class certification for a lawsuit claiming the hotelier had failed to fulfill its obligations in managing a retirement deferred stock bonus plan.

Judge Roger Titus of U.S. District Court in Maryland ruled in Bond v. Marriott International Inc. that the employees satisfied neither of the arguments they made to merit certification as either a Top Hat class or a Limitations class.

At issue is a deferred stock plan Marriott offered its employees between 1963 and 1990, at which time it changed the plan, telling workers ERISA regulations were the reason for the alterations.

In an earlier ruling last month, the court ruled that the case could go forward and that no statute of limitations applied because Marriott “did not adopt an administrative claims procedure until after the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, and so it was impossible for the plaintiffs to participate in any internal benefit claims determination, receive a formal denial therefrom, and accrue a cause of action.”

In seeking class action status, the employees argued that they deserved “commonality” because “there will be common answers to the common questions of whether certain events triggered the statute of limitations on plaintiffs’ ERISA claims.”

Titus’ rejected that claim this month, saying some employees had signed waivers making them ineligible to sue and others had received more stock than the minimum mandated under ERISA guidelines. Thus, he ruled that each plaintiff’s claim would need to be determined individually.

The judge’s decision to deny class certification comes two years after he refused Marriott’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

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