In a case examining one of the country's largest 401(k) plans, a Missouri appeals court granted class-action status to Lockheed Martin employees and the beneficiaries who participated in the company's 401(k) plan between Sept. 11, 2000 and Sept. 30, 2006.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling overturns a previous denial for class certification by a lower court.

Brought to appeal by attorneys from Schlichter, Bogard & Denton LLP, the case hinges on underperforming investments in the Hueler FirstSource Index. Attorneys argued that Lockheed failed in its fiduciary duty. Plaintiffs claimed that poor management of the stable-value fund was in violation of ERISA standards in that the investments were primarily short-term money market products with lower returns and not in fact properly structured stable-value products.

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