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Ropes & Gray Attorneys Secure Dismissal of Putative ERISA Class Action Against the Tribune Company

Practices: Business & Commercial Litigation, ERISA, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits, Labor & Employment, Litigation

A Ropes & Gray litigation team recently secured the dismissal of a putative class-action lawsuit brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) against The Tribune Company, one of Tribune’s pension plans, and Tribune’s employee benefits committee. The plaintiffs, two plan participants and former employees of a company that merged with Tribune, filed suit in June in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the plan violated ERISA in two ways: first, by failing to annualize partial-year compensation when calculating a participant’s “final average salary;” and second, by impermissibly “backloading” the accrual of retirement benefits and concentrating benefit accrual in employees’ later years of service.

On Aug. 26, Ropes & Gray filed a motion to dismiss, arguing first that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies by filing suit without first presenting their claims to the plan administrator, and second, that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. On Sept. 3, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal and withdrew their complaint.

The team was led by tax & benefits partner Loretta Richard and labor & employment partner Jeffrey Webb.

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