SCOTUS ERISA Fee Litigation Update: Hughes et al. v. Northwestern University

March 1, 2022

On January 24, 2022, in a rare, unanimous 8-0 decision (Justice Barrett recused herself from the case), the Supreme Court of the United States (the “Supreme Court”) vacated a Seventh Circuit affirmation of the dismissal of Hughes et al v. Northwestern University, one of the more high-profile cases in the current litany of defined contribution plan fee litigations. 142 S. Ct. 737 (2022). Although, on its face, the Supreme Court’s decision to remand the case back to the lower court for further consideration appears to be a victory for fee litigation plaintiffs across the country, many fee litigation defendants are also finding reason to be pleased with the Supreme Court’s brief ruling. Furthermore, the case serves as an important reminder to plan fiduciaries of the steps they should continue to take to meet their responsibilities with respect to monitoring plan investments, recordkeepers, and associated fees.

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