Fiduciary Breach Cases Continue to Make Headlines | Hall Benefits Law Seeks New Associate | ERISA Penalty Increases Now in Effect | Case Points to Importance of HIPAA Policies and Procedures


Plan Sponsors Under the Microscope as Fiduciary Breach Cases Make Headlines

Prestigious universities’ 403(b) plans are facing lawsuits for alleged breaches of fiduciary duties under ERISA. Universities in the midst of active lawsuits include Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), N.Y.U., Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, and Vanderbilt University, among others. The university lawsuits stem from allegations that the institutions failed to consider low-cost investment options and in many cases used multiple record keepers for their plans, driving up participant fees unnecessarily.

In Emory’s case, it’s not just the university being sued. Additional defendants include Emory Healthcare, Inc., Emory Pension Board, Emory Investment Management, and the Vice President of Investments and Chief Investment Officer. Jerome Schlicter, who represents employees of Emory University in the class-action, stated in a recent interview that the surge in retirement plan litigation correlates with increased employee knowledge and media coverage of retirement plans.

Major universities aren’t the only ones currently under the microscope. According to an August 18 article on Bloomberg.com, “Class-action lawyers are targeting a wider variety of alleged breaches of fiduciary duty in retirement offerings and suing a broader range of entities.”

The story of Novant Health, Inc., a nonprofit hospital system, serves as a cautionary tale for plan sponsors. After paying a $32 million settlement related to corporate fiduciary breaches in its retirement plan, Novant subsequently was required to hire an outside consultant, revise its investment options, and provide accurate communications to its participants. These are all steps Novant could have taken prior to the class action with the help of a good ERISA attorney.

Is it time to take a closer look at Retirement Plan Legal Compliance? Hall Benefits Law recommends that every business undergo a thorough legal review of its fiduciary responsibilities related to retirement plans.


Hall Benefits Law is Looking for an Experienced ERISA Associate

Hall Benefits Law is growing again, and we need your help! Our next associate will play a crucial role in the continued success of our rapidly growing, fast-paced ERISA law firm. If you know of a candidate with at least five years of ERISA experience who is looking to join our ERISA and Employee Benefits All-Star Team, please let us know and send them the Associate Job Description.

ERISA Penalty Increases Now in Effect

Wondering if it makes sense to have qualified ERISA attorneys perform a comprehensive review of your business’s Health and Welfare Benefits and Retirement Plan Legal Compliance? Increased maximum penalties for sixteen ERISA violations went into effect on August 1, 2016. The increased penalties represent adjustments for inflation which are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. Some examples of these increased penalties:
  • Section 502(c)(2) – The maximum penalty for failure/refusal to properly file plan’s annual report increased from $1,100 per day to $2,063 per day.
  • Section 502(c)(5) – The maximum penalty for failure to file annual report for Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) increased from $1,100 per day per failure to $1,502 per day per failure.
  • Section 502(m) – The maximum penalty for failure of fiduciary to make a proper distribution from a defined benefit plan under section 206(e) of ERISA increasedfrom $10,000 to $15,909.
These examples underscore the need for a proactive and preventive approach to ERISA compliance. Click to see a full chart of the Inflation Adjustment Act Penalty Adjustments.

Case Points to Importance of HIPAA Policies and Procedures

The recent $650,000 settlement with Catholic Health Care Services (CHCS), part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, indicates that nonprofit Covered Entities and Business Associates are now targets of HIPAA auditors. CHCS is a Business Associate to a number of nursing homes, and as such their data protection practices must comply with new HIPAA Omnibus rules. At the root of the breach was a stolen phone which was unencrypted and was not password protected. At the time, CHCS had no policies in place addressing the removal of mobile phones containing Personal Health Information (PHI) or addressing how to handle a security incident involving such a breach. In addition to the fine it imposed, the Office of Civil Rights will monitor CHCS for two years as part of the settlement.

Does your business have a specific plan in place in the event of a PHI breach? Hall Benefits Law recommends every business have a comprehensive and robust HIPAA Policies and Procedures Manual, and we’d be happy to speak with you about the steps we can take together to get you there

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC assisted me with review, documentation, and a written opinion for a specific DOL situation. Anne Tyler is professional as well as personable, articulate, and knowledgeable on the subject for which I hired her. Working with someone who has personality and good communication skills is not necessarily a common attribute. Anne Tyler brings these attributes. The price for the work done, independent research as well as client presentation, was very fair and I would be happy to recommend Anne Tyler to any associate or colleague in need of her legal expertise.
H.W. YoungbloodPresident |Financial Network Associates, Inc.
Hall Benefits Law, LLC brings the unique qualities of availability and approachability, as well as thought provoking discussion that greatly assists us with our clients. Anne Tyler is always willing and available to bring her knowledge and expertise about health care law which eases any concerns about compliance. In a client meeting to discuss the Affordable Care Act, Anne Tyler’s unique way of presenting complex information in an easy to understand manner enabled the client to formulate an action plan. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.
Jeff KochDirector of Benefits & Marketing Communications |Resource Alliance
My overall experience with Hall Benefits Law, LLC was very pleasing and the service received from Anne Tyler was exemplary in every way. I required technical research in a number of different areas and Anne Tyler performed them above expectation. She was knowledgeable, responsive, cogent, and accessible. I will be happy to recommend her for similar issues.
Samuel R. ChandOwner |Samuel R. Chand Consulting
Anne Tyler is great at interpreting the law. Her research and easy to understand documents are professional, organized, thorough and delivered in a timely manner. We appreciate her accessibility and willingness to offer suggestions and meet with our clients in person or via phone for meaningful discussions and getting answers quickly.
Andy WeyenbergVP of Operations |Resource Alliance
Anne Tyler is an excellent advisor with a true command of ERISA and Benefits law.  She is an effective communicator and a favorite of clients and colleagues.
Anson AsburyPrincipal |Asbury Law Firm
Anne Tyler is a true expert in her field, and I am honored to refer my clients to her. All that I have referred to her are always impressed with her knowledge, compassion, and ability to give her clients clarity and creative solutions. I highly recommend Anne Tyler to anyone who is looking for an employee benefits attorney; she knows how to get results.
Sara KhakiAttorney/Owner |The Khaki Law Firm LLC
Anne Tyler is an energetic and conscientious attorney with experience in compliance issues for ERISA and Benefits matters, having worked at some of the most prestigious law firms in the Southeast. She is also very personable, which is a great combination.
Nancy PridgenAttorney |Patel Burkhalter Law Group