Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sims v. BB&T Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 28, 2017

ROBERT SIMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BB&T CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Catherine C. Eagles, District Judge

         In this ERISA action, the plaintiffs contend that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the plan in connection with fees and investment options. They seek certification of a class made up of current and former participants of the plan. The plaintiffs have met the standards set for class certification set forth in Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b)(1)(A). Therefore, the Court will grant the motion for class certification.

         BACKGROUND

         The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) imposes fiduciary duties “on those responsible for the administration of employee benefit plans and the investment and disposal of plan assets.” Tatum v. RJR Pension Inv. Comm., 761 F.3d 346, 355 (4th Cir. 2014). A fiduciary who breaches the duties imposed by ERISA is personally liable for any losses to the plan resulting from the breach. 29 U.S.C. § 1109(a). ERISA authorizes any plan participant to bring an action on behalf of the plan for a breach of fiduciary duty, including the right to seek associated monetary and injunctive relief. 29 U.S.C. §§ 1109(a), 1132(a)(2).

         The plaintiffs are current or former participants in the BB&T Corporation 401(k) Savings Plan. Doc. 88 at ¶¶ 11-22; Doc. 99 at ¶¶ 11-22. The plaintiffs assert that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the Plan by causing the Plan to incur excessive administrative and investment fees, providing imprudent investment fund options, failing to appropriately monitor Plan fiduciaries, and engaging in prohibited transactions. Doc. 88. The plaintiffs seek equitable and injunctive relief and ask that the defendants “make good to the Plan all losses to the Plan resulting from each breach of fiduciary duties or prohibited transaction.” Doc. 88 at p. 85.

         The plaintiffs now move to certify the following class of plaintiffs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23:

All current and former participants and beneficiaries of the [Plan] from January 1, 2007 through the date of judgment, who were injured by the conduct alleged in the Second Amended Complaint, excluding the Defendants.

Doc. 146 at 1. They ask the Court to appoint Schlicter, Bogard & Denton as lead class counsel and Nichols Kaster as an additional counsel for the class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(g). Id. at 2.

         ANALYSIS

         “The class action is an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only.” Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426, 1432 (2013) (internal citations omitted). To show that a case falls within the exception, the plaintiff “must affirmatively demonstrate his compliance” with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011); see also Thorn v. Jefferson-Pilot Life Ins. Co., 445 F.3d 311, 318 (4th Cir. 2006) (“[D]istrict courts must conduct a rigorous analysis to ensure compliance with Rule 23.” (quotation omitted)).

         As threshold matters, the putative class representatives must show that they are members of the proposed class, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) (“One or more members of a class may sue . . . as representative parties on behalf of all members . . . .”), and must establish that the members of the proposed class are “readily identifiable” or “ascertainab[le].” EQT Prod. Co. v. Adair, 764 F.3d 347, 358 (4th Cir. 2014) (quotations omitted). The plaintiff must then establish that the case satisfies all four requirements of Rule 23(a) and fits into at least one of the three subsections of Rule 23(b). Comcast, 133 S.Ct. at 1432; Bussey v. Macon Cty. Greyhound Park, Inc., 562 F. App'x 782, 787-88 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam).

         Here, the issues in dispute are whether there are common questions of law or fact; whether the claims of the representative plaintiffs are typical; and whether the representative plaintiffs will adequately protect the interests of the class. Doc. 192 at 15. The defendants also challenge appointment of two, as opposed to one, counsel for the class. Id. at 37-38.[1]

         I. Undisputed Issues

         The parties do not dispute that the plaintiffs are members of the proposed class and that other members of the proposed class can be readily identified through Plan records. See, e.g., Doc. 192 at 6 (relying on “Plan data” to identify potential range of the class members). The plaintiffs' proposed class includes anywhere from 30, 000 to 67, 000 individuals, Doc. 99 at ¶ 10; Doc. 192-1 at ¶ 16, which “is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1); see Cent. Wesleyan Coll. v. W.R. Grace & Co., 6 F.3d 177, 183 (4th Cir. 1993) (noting district court's finding “that some 480 potential class members would easily satisfy the numerosity requirement”). Thus it is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.