A landmark ERISA case about employer-sponsored retirement plans was settled last week for $61 million, after six years of litigation and more than $1 million in expenses on the part of the plaintiffs. The settlement, which involves General Electric and a large class of plaintiffs, is being called the largest ever in an ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) case alleging that a retirement plan improperly offered proprietary funds.

The settlement in the case, Haskins, et al. v. General Electric, et al., still must be approved by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and will be heard on October 17. However, the settlement has been agreed to by both sides, with the papers citing the many years that litigation can take and the uncertainty and risk that the plaintiffs face.

The actual damages were calculated at $283 million, but the settlement, which is about 21.4 percent of that amount, is at the higher end of the range for similar ERISA class-action suits, according to court documents.


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