UnitedHealth Certified ERISA Class Action

Case: Snyder v. UnitedHealth Group, et al.

Case type: Financial Services Litigation

Filed in: U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

Docket: Case No. 0:21-CV-01049 (JRT/BRT)

Case Summary

In April 2021, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 150,000 individuals who were invested in the Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite through the UnitedHealth Group 401(k) Savings Plan.

The Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite was one of the worst-performing target date options in the entire market, and the Complaint alleges that UnitedHealth’s decision to keep the Suite as the default investment for the Plan for over a decade violated fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The matter was certified as a class action in February 2022.

In August 2022, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed an Amended Complaint that presents a detailed chronology of UnitedHealth’s decision-making behind closed doors, including the role played by UnitedHealth’s CFO, John Rex. As alleged in the Amended Complaint, Wells Fargo was a critical customer and financier for UnitedHealth, and UnitedHealth’s executive leadership personally intervened to keep the Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite on UnitedHealth’s 401(k) Plan to garner favor with, and benefit, Wells Fargo.

To justify keeping the poorly performing Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite, UnitedHealth allegedly kept its decision-making secret and threw out key findings that the Plan’s own Investment Committee had made, while abandoning the Plan’s written criteria for screening investments.

On March 12, 2024, the Court denied most of UnitedHealth’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the case to proceed to trial.