ERISA Lawsuit: PNC Class Certified

On September 16, 2022, the Honorable Christy Criswell Wiegand of the Western District of Pennsylvania certified a class of over 65,000 current and former participants of the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Incentive Savings Plan (the “Plan”) in an ERISA lawsuit against PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”) and the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Incentive Savings Plan Administrative Committee (collectively, “Defendants”).

PNC is the plan sponsor for the Plan. With assets totaling approximately $6.9 billion, the Plan is in the top 0.1% of all defined contribution plans by size. Importantly, large plans like the Plan have substantial leverage to negotiate for lower fees and expenses charged against plan participants’ investments.

The Plan is a defined contribution 401(k) retirement plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), a federal statute establishing fiduciary standards for plan administrators to ensure that investments offered to employees are prudently selected and monitored.

Class representatives Henrena Johnson, Barbara Demps, and John McCauley (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed suit against PNC on behalf of the Class on October 2, 2020, alleging that Defendants violated ERISA by allowing the Plan to incur recordkeeping and administrative fees significantly higher than the average fees paid by similarly sized plans.

On March 31, 2022, Judge Wiegand granted in part and denied in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss the ERISA lawsuit. The Court reasoned that Plaintiffs’ comparison of PNC’s annual recordkeeping fee of more than $50 per participant to the significantly lower fees of similar plans created a plausible inference that PNC “failed to scrutinize the prevailing rates” for 401(k) plan recordkeeping services.

Subsequently, Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly stipulated to certify the lawsuit as a class action. In its approval, the Court found that the proposed class satisfied each of the four principal requirements of class actions: numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation.  The Court accordingly defined the Class as “all participants and beneficiaries in the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Incentive Savings Plan at any time on or after October 2, 2014 to the present, including any beneficiary of a deceased person who was a participant in the Plan at any time during the Class Period.”

Plaintiffs, the Class, and the Plan are represented by Miller Shah LLP. 

Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The case caption for the lawsuit is Johnson et al v. PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:20-cv-01493-CCW, filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

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

Miller Shah LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The firm is an active member of International Advisory Group (IAG Global),which provides clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources across the globe. For more information about the firm, please visit www.millershah.com.

Leave a Comment

Member IAG Global

Telephone: 866-540-5505 • Fax: 866-300-7367 | Se habla Español

California – Los Angeles Area

19712 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 222
Irvine, CA 92612
Map and Directions

California – San Diego

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 1140
San Diego, CA 92101
Map and Directions

California – San Francisco

3 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1650
San Francisco, CA 94111
Map and Directions

Connecticut

65 Main Street
Chester, CT 06412
Map and Directions

Florida

1625 N. Commerce Pkwy, Suite 320
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33326
Map and Directions

New Jersey

2 Hudson Place, Suite 100
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Map and Directions

New York

225 Broadway, Suite 1830
New York, NY 10007
Map and Directions

Pennsylvania

1845 Walnut Street, Suite 806
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Map and Directions

Affiliate Office –  Milan, Italy