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Court Certifies 30,000-Member Class in ERISA Lawsuit Against Genentech

On September 22, 2022, a District Judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California certified a class of over 30,000 people in a lawsuit against Genentech, Inc., and the U.S. Roche DC Fiduciary Committee (collectively, “Genentech,” the “Company,” or “Defendants”).

The Court defined the Class as “all participants and beneficiaries in the U.S. Roche 401(k) Savings Plan (the “Plan”) at any time on or after October 2, 2014, to the present (the “Class Period”), including any beneficiary of a deceased person who was a participant in the Plan at any time during the Class Period.”

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, among other things, that all recordkeeping and administrative services (“RK&A services”) offered to employees are prudently selected and monitored.

With assets totaling over $7.6 billion as of 2018, 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 RK&A service fees charged to plan participants.

Plaintiff Matthew Wehner filed the Amended Class Action Complaint against Genentech on behalf of the Class on March 1, 2021, alleging that the Company violated ERISA by offering expensive and underperforming investments and by allowing the Plan to pay RK&A service fees significantly higher than the average charged to similarly sized plans.

On June 14, 2021, the Court partially granted and partially denied Genentech’s Motion to Dismiss. Specifically, the Court denied Defendant’s argument that the excessive RK&A service fee claim fails to assert a breach of the duty of prudence, finding Plaintiff’s argument to be plausibly pled.

Plaintiff moved for class certification in September 2022.  Although Genentech did not oppose the motion, the Company will continue to fight the charges.

The Class is represented by Miller Shah LLP and Olivier & Schreiber LLP.

Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The case caption for the lawsuit is Matthew Wehner et al v. Genentech Inc. et al., Case No. 3:20-cv-06894-WHO, filed in the Northern District of California.

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 Elise Wilson (emwilson@millershah.com) or Alec Berin (ajberin@millershah.com). The firm can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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