• Uncategorized



Thecase involves the holding of the court in the Ninth Circuit SupremeCourt Case Tibble v. Edison International. Notably, the Supreme Courtremanded the case to the Ninth Circuit who made a declaration thedecision of the district court. The Supreme Court has claimed thatthe existing mandate to monitor falls under trust law, and the NinthCircuit is responsible for making a decision based on those facts. Ithad ruled that the petitioner had erred by failing to inform theclients clearly about the investment that he planned to take part in.It, therefore, went against the trust that the employees had giventhe trustee and appeared much like the party was out to make use ofthe good relationship that he had with the employees. The ruling madewould go a long way to make other trustees with the need to providefiduciaries with information that is rightfully theirs at all cost.

Theupcoming presidential elections serve as an opportunity for mostpeople to think deeply about the status of their retirementinvestment accounts. They have the view that with the change in theadministration structure, there is bound to be a modification in theway their savings would be handled and they fear that such changescould be of a detriment and cause problems to them when they retireand need to use the funds invested. There is usually a benefit thatlies in people having multiple investment opportunities (Aquilio34).One of them lies in the aspect that the employer can avoid lots ofcase suits as employees feel satisfied that they are able to make useof investment opportunities that are bound to benefit them immenselyonce they retire. The employer will also need to part with a muchlesser amount to the employees as a gratuity fund to them. Throughout the term of employment, such employees will have developedan investment system that will have accorded them significant amountsof money. That will make them feel quite comfortable even as theyshall be approaching their retirement. While there are employees whocould opt for personal investment opportunities, such measures areusually less desirable, especially given the fact that they may lackthe very element of consistency something that is usually quiteimportant as far as making proper plans for the future is concerned.

Employerand personal investments are marked by various key terms that peopleneed to be aware of as they help to determine the kind of approachthat they shall have towards them. One of them is mutual funds. Theseare funds that are pooled together from a group of investors so thatthey may be invested in different securities such as money markets,bonds and stocks (Anatole6). Retail class funds are those that can easily be traded around,thereby creating room for liquidity or change in investment plans.Some people normally prefer such kind of arrangements because theyoffer them the opportunity to be flexible around their investments.Institutional class funds are those that cannot be easily convertedand need elaborate measures to ensure that the same is achieved. Theytend to be more secure.

Asfar as the management of retirement funds is concerned, there was theneed to institute an Act that would help to ensure that such aprocess was highly regulated and the funds of members would be wellsafeguarded. Such kind of law is the RetirementIncome Security Act (ERISA) that was enacted in 1974 (Sterk 22).The law is quite explicit on the need for bodies to ‘shareinformation regarding all the information regarding given investmentplans’ that they had put in place. The act also ensures that‘fiduciaries are able to act within a given code of conduct’ sothat they do not offer the trustees any problems as they do theirlevel best to manage the funds that are put under their charge. Thelaw also provides the various steps that may be taken so as to obtaina reprieve in the federal courts in case a given party feelsaggrieved during the administration of the funds.

Oneof the cases that could be linked to this act is such as the one thatwas ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States on the 18thof May 2015. The case involved Tibble Versus Edison International ina case in which the plaintiff maintained that the Edison company haderred in awarding higher cost mutual funds, yet there existed muchlower cost ones that would go on to be of great benefit to thefiduciaries. The court maintained that the Employee Retirement IncomeSecurity Act provided the fiduciaries with the right to continuemonitoring the investment plans that were put in place by the partiesthat were charged with such responsibility. This is because they weredirectly affected by the actions that such entities would make and,therefore, needed to have continuous information regarding theactions that the trustees took towards the same. However, the courtfailed to address the various statutes within the ERISA requirementthat touched on the right of fiduciaries to monitor the investmentactions that the trustees took part in. It instead, chose to referthe issue to the Ninth Circuit, which would help to delve much intothe provisions that were contained in the case and help outline thespecific steps that would need to be taken so as to solve the case.


TheERISA Act goes a long way to ensure that the investment funds ofemployees are well safeguarded. It directs all those who are incontact with the funds meant for employees to take actions that offerlesser chances of harm upon them. It also directs that the trusteesof these funds need to take measures that are consistent with theprovisions of the law so as to avoid any court cases that may befurthered as a result (Green26).The act also provides an opportunity for a multi-employer plan,whereby, all the employers of a given individual could draw a planthat is bound to benefit such an individual. The action more oftenprovides a chance for a win-win given the fact that the employerswill need to spend a lesser amount of money to fund the investmentplan. The employees would gain in such a way that they would be ableto earn a large capital base that would help to improve their scaleof operations as far as the application of the Act is concerned.

TheAct shows the flaws that the petitioner had as far as theadministration of the funds of the employees was concerned. Suchtouch on some of the codes that are found in the ERISA. One of themis the 29 USC that involves offering security for the income ofemployees through investing in items that provide little risk to thefunds that belong to the employees and at the same time, provide achance for them to make some considerable amount of money once theyretire from employment. Chapter 18 §§ 1001(a) touches on the factthat employees have the right to obtain the different benefits thatare owed to them as a result of the investments that are made usingthe funds that they have given to the trustees. Therefore, thepetitioner had a duty to ensure that he presented the employees withthe opportunity to gain a lot of the returns from the funds thatwould be used to invest in different ventures (Clark11).The 29 USC Chapter 18 §§ 1104(a) (1) (A) deals with the duties ofthe fiduciary in that it needs to provide benefits to all people whoparticipate in a given plan such as employees. Notably, Article (B)of the section touches on the fact that fiduciary needs to make useof skills as well as diligence and need to ensure care for all thosewho are involved so as to ensure that they receive the best case ofservice.

The29 USC Chapter 18 §§ 1109 (a) deals with the breach of fiduciaryduties. As a result, those entities that fail to inform their clientsall the information that they need to know about may be held liable. As such, the court, with sufficient information of malpractice, mayremove such a fiduciary from practice of its activities so as to helpprotect the rights of all those who are involved (Muiret al. 56).The 29 USC Chapter 18 §§ 1113(1) (A) touches on the imitation ofactions in that it would be necessary to highlight the date that thelast action was carried out which in part or wholly led to a case ofa breach of the provisions that were made in the given contract.1113(1) (B) of the section touches on the fact that where there is anomission of the date of breach or when the beach could have beendealt with in accordance with the law. Article (2) of the acthighlights those three years from the initial date that the plaintiffis convinced had the first knowledge of breach. The 29 USC Chapter18 §§ 1132(a) (2) deals with the aspect of civil enforcement inthat the Secretary, fiduciary or beneficiary may be provided withsome form of relief under the section 1109.

“Dutyof prudence” refers to the ability of trustees under trust law toadminister a given trust with a high level of skill, professionalism,and caution so as to ensure that they do not pose any danger of lossof funds to all the individuals who have given out their funds to bemanaged by such entities (Asher30). “Duty to monitor” refers to the act that the beneficiaries bearthe duty to monitor the activities that are carried out by thefiduciaries so as to ensure that they are acting within the mostpermissible levels and do not offer any form of harm to the kind ofinvestments that they have made. The 6-year statute of limitationreferred to the aspect that the investments made needed not exceed 6years.

Analysisof the key case (at all levels)

TheCalifornia District Court agreed that the petitioners had the rightto argue that the complaint they made was quite timely given the factthat the funds had changed quite significantly, and with time, theywould be able to take actions that were bound to inform thefiduciaries of what they faced (Aquilio32).The court, however, ruled that the petitioners were quite wrong inthat they failed to show prudence in providing fiduciaries withinformation regarding the kind of investments that they planned totake part in. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the claims of thepetitioners were quite untimely given the fact that they failed toprovide a situational change that would prompt an assessment ofchange of investment plans. The Ninth Circuit Court quoted some ofthe codes that were contravened by the petitioners. Some of themincluded the IRS 1398 that dealt with the creation of a separatetaxable entity which would help to ensure that the investment plansthat were settled on did not provide any chance of causing taxchallenges to the fiduciaries.

TheSupreme Court maintained that the case would be remanded to the NinthCircuit which would help to outline the different elements containedin the ERISA that the petitioners seemed to have contravened. Thecourt quoted the Bankruptcy Code 503 (b) that showed that thefiduciaries need not be liable to the issues that make their fundstaxable in any way (Aquilio35).The Ninth Circuit in its right maintained that the petitioners werequite wrong as they owed the fiduciaries duty to ensure that theyshared information with them as it was to their interest to know anykind of investment plans were being used for the funds that were putunder the charge of said trustees.

Thecase is identical to that of Phillipsv. AlaskaHotel &amp Rest. Emps. Pension Fund.In this case, the appellants brought the case before the UnitedStates Courts of Appeal whereby they argued that a pension plan inwhich there is an exclusion of a high number of participants is not aviolation of the Labor Management Relations Act. They aimed to have areversal of a judgment that was made by the district court in whichit ruled that the appellants had breached the law. They alsoindicated that class statutes leveled by the plaintiffs wastime-barred and they, therefore, could not refer to it. Theplaintiffs had the duty to ensure that the investment plan chosen waswithin the 6-year period as per ERISA29U.S.C § 1113.

Thecase of Johnsv. Herbert (1894) involved whether trustees had the duty to monitortheir investments. As it would be established later on in the ERISA472 U.S. 599, 570 (1985),such people, especially those who are under a pension scheme areentitled to information that relates to the investment that they havegiven to the trustees. As such, it would be a breach of the law wherea given trustee fails to accord the fiduciaries the opportunity tomonitor their investments and establish whether they are going onwell.

Thecase of Tibblev. Edison Int`l, 729 F.3d 1110, 1119filed in the 9thCircuit Court was based on the fact that a fiduciary is obliged tocontinually monitor the investments made by the trustee and couldremove those investments that are unworthy. It had earlier been filedat the District Court in 2009as Tibblev. Edison Int’l, 639 F. Supp. 2d 1074, 1086. TheDistrict Court stated that Edison international was on the right andruled in its favor. This is because the issue of prudence inobserving a 6-year period of investments lay on the fiduciaries. Atrustee could take the fiduciary to court for breach of prudencewhere he is assured that the fiduciary failed to properly monitor theinvestments. The case was filed at the 9thCircuit Court where it ruled that the beneficiaries were not entitledto the control of the funds and making decisions as they had failedto take action within time subject to the ERISA 29 U.S.C § 1113which touched on the aspect of the time that fiduciaries choose tomake investment plans.. It also indicated that while it had allowedthe beneficiaries to quote a change of circumstances on the part ofthe trustees, it could not ascertain an actual presence of the sameand, thereby refused to the request of the beneficiaries. Thebeneficiaries then appealed the case in the supreme court in 2015 asTibblevs. Edison Int’l, 135 S.Ct. 1823 (2015). Tibble argued that the circumstances of failure to stick to theclass action were as a result of the failure on the part of theiremployer, Edison International. The court of appeal disagreed withthe view of Tibble and stated that they had failed to stick to the6-year minimum plan and therefore, the case could not be ruled totheir favor. The court, however agreed that the fiduciaries were theright people to bring the case to court because they were thebeneficiaries of the investment as stated in ERISA 29 U.S.C §1132(a) (2)


Thiscase should be an eye-opener for both plan fiduciaries as well asplan beneficiaries as they are all affected by such situations..Stress the need for documentation of all decisions related tochanges in retirement plans so as to ensure that the right acts areput in place. “no plan guidance on the scope of ERISA fiduciaryduty” needs to be put on the forefront. The actions conducted bythe petitioners were quite ill-advised.


Anatole,Hilton. &quotPLUS Conference.&quot 2012

Asher,N. Denise. &quotBinding Mediation: Blasphemous Paradox or CreativeSolution to Court Funding Woes?.&quot (2013).

Aquilio,Mark. Thehigh court rules that post-petition income taxes on the sale of farmassets are not discharged pursuant to chapter 12 of the bankruptcycode.2012. 34-35

Clark,Ohio V.&nbspPreview.Diss. Iowa State University, 2010.

Green,Michael Z. &quotUnusual Unanimity and the Ongoing Debate on theMeaning of Words: The Labor and Employment Decisions from the SupremeCourt`s 2013-14 Term.&quot&nbspABAJournal of Labor and Employment Law, Forthcoming&nbsp(2015).

Johnsv. Herbert, 2 App. D.C. 486, 499 (1894)

Muir,Dana M., and Norman P. Stein. &quotTwo Hats, One Head, No Heart: TheAnatomy of the ERISA Settlor/Fiduciary Distinction.&quot&nbspNorthCarolina Law Review&nbsp93(2015).

Phillipsv. Alaska Hotel &amp Rest. Emps. Pension Fund, 944 F.2d 509, 520(9th Cir 1991)&nbsp

Sterk,Stewart E. &quotRethinking Trust Law Reform: How Prudent is ModernPrudent Investor Doctrine.&quot&nbspCornellL. Rev.&nbsp95(2009): 851.

Tibblev. Edison Int’l, 639 F. Supp. 2d 1074, 1086 (C.D. Cal. 2009)

Tibblev. Edison Int`l, 729 F.3d 1110, 1119 (9th Cir. 2013)

Tibblevs. Edison Int’l, 135 S.Ct. 1823 (2015)

Close Menu