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L Brands Settles ERISA 401(k) Class Action for $2.75 Million

On August 11th, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Preliminary Approval of the settlement agreement reached in a class action lawsuit against L Brands, Inc., L Brands Service Company, LLC, and its Retirement Plan Committee (collectively, “L Brands,” the “Company,” or “Defendants”). The lawsuit was brought on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of L Brands Inc. 401(k) Savings and Retirement Plan (the “Plan”).

L Brands, otherwise known as Bath & Body Works, Inc., is a Fortune 500 company that offers the Plan to its employees. Defined contribution plans such as the Plan are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), a federal statute that establishes fiduciary duties for plan administrators to ensure that investments offered to employees are prudently selected and monitored.

Represented by Miller Shah LLP, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants mismanaged the Plan and thus breached duties owed to the Plan and its participants under ERISA. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that L Brands caused the Plan to pay unreasonable investment management fees and recordkeeping and administrative fees.

On February 12, 2021, L Brands filed two separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims and that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The District Court denied both of Defendants’ motions to dismiss on September 16, 2021, and the parties subsequently agreed to proceed with private mediation. The parties exchanged briefs and follow-up information prior to and during the mediation, and reached an agreement in principle to resolve the Action on May 3, 2022, for $2.75 million.

In the Motion for Preliminary Approval, Plaintiffs argue that the settlement class satisfies Rule 23(a)’s prerequisites for numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation, as well as the requirements of Rule 23(b)(1). Plaintiffs also request that Miller Shah be appointed as Class Counsel, noting their comprehensive investigation and litigation of Plaintiffs’ claims and extensive experience litigating ERISA fiduciary breach cases and overseeing the administration of settlement agreements.

In consideration of the risks inherent in litigation and in an effort to conserve resources on both sides, Plaintiffs are asking the court to preliminarily approve the Settlement, Notice Plan, and Plan of Allocation, preliminarily certify the Settlement Class, and set a date for a final fairness hearing.

Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The case caption for the lawsuit is Allison v. L Brands, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:20-cv-06018-EAS-CMV, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The legal team at Miller Shah LLP has significant experience representing ERISA matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this post, please contact Alec Berin (ajberin@millershah.com) or Jonathan Dilger (jadilger@millershah.com). The firm can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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