General Electric ERISA Class Action

Case name: In Re G.E. ERISA Litigation  

Case type:ERISA

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ]

Docket: [Case no. 1:17-cv-12123-IT] 

Case Summary

In September 2017, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed an individual and class action complaint against General Electric Company (“GE”) for breach of fiduciary duties under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). 

The Complaint, Haskins, et al. v. General Electric, et al., filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleged that GE and trustees of the General Electric Retirement Plan (“the Plan”), as well as 30 unnamed defendants, violated ERISA by engaging in prohibited transactions and unlawful self-dealing detrimental to both the named Plaintiffs individually and the Class—some 250,000 GE employees participating in the Plan during the proposed class period of January 11, 2011 through June 30, 2016, and who collectively invested billions of dollars in the Plan annually. 

The Complaint alleged that GE breached its fiduciary duties by weighting the Plan with proprietary, poorly performing mutual funds because they provided GE’s investment management business, General Electric Asset Management Incorp. (“GEAM”), a constant source of fees and helped inflate GEAM’s market value. As a result, the Complaint alleged, GE reaped hundreds of millions in profit during the class period while the Plan’s participants suffered losses in the hundreds of millions. 

In 2017, within two months of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s filing the ERISA class action, three virtually identical putative class actions were filed against GE in Massachusetts, home to its headquarters. In December 2017, the Massachusetts District Court ordered that Haskins v. GE be consolidated with the three ERISA classes in Massachusetts, in the matter of In Re G.E. ERISA Litigation. 

On October 6, 2023, the parties agreed to a settlement of $61 million, which is believed to be the largest-ever settlement of an ERISA case stemming from allegations that a corporation’s 401(k) plan improperly directed employees to invest in its own, under-performing, proprietary funds.

On March 7, 2024, the Court granted final approval to the settlement. 

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