Court rules in PNC Financial’s favor in suit over 401(k) fees

August 6, 2021

A U.S. District Court judge in Pittsburgh dismissed a suit against PNC Financial Services Group and fiduciaries of its 401(k) plan by two participants who alleged ERISA violations due to high administrative and record-keeping fees.

"The complaint a fails to state facts from which a breach of fiduciary duty can be plausibly inferred," said U.S. District Court Judge Christy Wiegand in her ruling Tuesday in the case of Johnson et al. vs. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. et al.

Reviewing the claims of excessive fees, the judge wrote that "plaintiffs' allegations stop short of crossing the threshold from possible to probable." She added that the plaintiffs failed to provide adequate details about the plan's fee structure and services to bolster their argument.

The judge gave the plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status, until Aug. 17 to file an amended complaint. "Plaintiffs are advised to make any such amended complaint their last, best effort, as the court is not inclined to provide additional opportunities to amend," she wrote.

The participants sued in October 2020.

"Defendants clearly failed to scrutinize the going rates for the record-keeping services the plan received, and for which participants shoulder the financial responsibility to the detriment of their retirement savings," they argued in the complaint.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. Incentive Savings Plan had assets of about $5.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018 according to the complaint.