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The "Duty to Monitor" and ERISA's Statute of Limitations After Tibble

July 7, 2015 - Westlaw Journal
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by Scott Stitt, published in Westlaw Journal

In Tibble v. Edison International, 135 S.Ct. 1823 (2015), the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that embraced a universally recognized proposition of law: Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, fiduciaries have a duty to monitor their investments in a 401(k) plan. But that decision raises a question that cuts across many types of employee benefit plans and a wide variety of litigation scenarios: whether the “duty to monitor” that the Supreme Court embraced in Tibble opens fiduciaries to litigation claims that would otherwise be outside the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations in ERISA generally bars claims of breach of fiduciary duty that result from "acts" or "omissions" that occurred more than six years earlier. So, if the investment decision first arose more than six years earlier, does ERISA’s statute of limitations bar the claim? Or does the "duty to monitor" embraced by the Supreme Court in Tibble eviscerate ERISA’s statute of limitations and create a rolling, six-year claim window? Tibble and its forthcoming progeny therefore are likely to have a profound impact on many types of ERISA litigation and on whether a statute-of-limitations defense will apply in those cases. Click here to read the article.

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