An appeals court has rejected Boeing Co.'s request to appeal a district court ruling that gave class-action status to participants in Boeing's 401(k) plan for their claims that the managers of Boeing's retirement plan breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing 170,000 Boeing employees and retirees to proceed to a resolution of their claims that the 401(k) plan had excessive fees and imprudent investment options. The decision affirmed Chief Judge David Herndon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois's earlier decision to grant class certification to participants in Boeing's 401(k) plan in Spano v. Boeing Co.

Judge Herndon certified for class treatment five claims arising from Boeing's mutual fund selections, revenue sharing and fee practices, and the management of the Boeing Company Stock Fund. The Seventh Circuit's rejection of the appeal vindicates the ability of 401(k) plan participants in this and other cases to enforce their rights under federal law to hold plan fiduciaries to high standards of care and diligence when managing retirement assets.

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