Opinion analysis: Justices confirm continuing duty for ERISA trustees to monitor investments

Justice Breyer’s opinion for the Court yesterday in Tibble v. Edison International underscored the Court’s commitment to unstinting enforcement of the fiduciary duties that govern ERISA plans. Although the case involves considerable procedural detail, the issue before the Court is a simple one: is it enough for the ERISA duty of prudence that the fiduciary make prudent decisions to invest in the first instance, or must the fiduciary also make prudent decisions about whether it should sell assets (or otherwise change the composition of the plan’s portfolio)?
If that sounds a bit technical, the underlying facts demonstrate the problem well. A firm’s 401(k) plan invested in a series of mutual funds in 1999 and another series in 2002. A group of employees filed suit in 2007, claiming that the fiduciaries (including, among others, the employer-respondent Edison International) should

Original SCOTUS article

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