The largest ERISA settlements included disputes over so-called church plans, breaches of fiduciary duty and general claims of retirement asset mismanagement. Here are the top 10.

More than 6,700 lawsuits were filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 2017, according to the annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, published by Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw.

The top ten ERISA settlements amounted to $927.8 million in 2017, nearly twice the amount of the largest wage and hour claims and by far more than any other area of employment law. In 2016, the top 10 ERISA settlements totaled $807.4 million.

Overall, the top settlements for all areas of employment law totaled $27.2 billion, nearly $1 billion more than in 2016 and more than the record of aggregate settlements in 2015, which was $2.48 billion.

With ERISA claims, the plaintiffs’ bar achieved a high rate of class certifications—77 percent of claims were certified as class actions.

Fifteen excessive fee claims against 401(k) plans were settled last year. Attorneys at Seyfarth Shaw expect continued high volume in ERISA settlements, as a raft of excessive 403(b) claims against large university plans continue to wend their way their courts across the country.

The largest ERISA settlements involved disputes over so-called church plans, breaches of fiduciary duty and general claims of retirement asset mismanagement, and failures to adequately fund pension plans.

Here are the top 10 ERISA settlements in 2017, provided courtesy of Seyfarth Shaw’s access to the Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report:

10. $25 million—Fernandez v. Merrill Lynch and Pierce, Fenner, and Smith Inc.

Plaintiffs alleged the broker dealer profited from unreasonable fees charged to 401(k) plans.

 

9. $29.5 million—In Re Wheaton Franciscan

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

 

8. $31 million—Butler v. Holy Cross Hospital

Former employees accused the hospital of underfunding its defined benefit pension plan.

 

7. $42 million—Garbaccio v. St. Joseph Hospital & Medical Center

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

 

6. $75 million—In Re JP Morgan Stable Value Fund

Plaintiffs alleged mismanagement of the company’s 401(k) plan.

 

5. $75 million—In Re Peabody Energy Corp.

Plaintiffs alleged mismanagement of the company’s pension plan.

 

4. $75 million—Lann v. Trinity Health Corp.

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

 

3.  $98.3 million—Hodges v. Bon Secours Health System

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

 

2. $125 million—Nicholson v. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health Systems

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

 

1. $352 million—Griffith v. Providence Health and Services

Plaintiffs alleged the hospital system underfunded its pension plan by inappropriately classifying it as a church plan, which exempted it from federal funding requirements.

The next installment on Seyfarth Shaw report will explore top 401(k) settlements last year.