Hecker et al. v. Deere & Company et al.

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The plaintiffs alleged that Deere & Company (Deere) and the fiduciaries of the Deere Savings & Investment Plan and Tax Deferred Savings Plan breached their duties to plan members and caused the Deere plans to pay excessive fees and expenses.

Retained by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

The plaintiffs alleged that Deere & Company (Deere) and the fiduciaries of the Deere Savings & Investment Plan and Tax Deferred Savings Plan breached their duties to plan members and caused the Deere plans to pay excessive fees and expenses. On June 21, 2007, U.S. District Judge John C. Shabaz of the Western District of Wisconsin dismissed the complaint. Judge Shabaz ruled that Deere’s fee disclosures were fully compliant with ERISA requirements and that any claim based on the amount of the total fees is foreclosed by ERISA’s safe harbor provision. On February 12, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of all claims. On June 24, 2009, the court reaffirmed its decision and denied the plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing the case.

The court reaffirmed its decision and denied the plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing the case.

Working with Professor Laura Starks of the University of Texas at Austin, Cornerstone Research assisted counsel for Deere by analyzing the plaintiffs’ liability and damages claims. Our work included providing an overview of the relevant features of the 401(k) plan industry and analyzing the structure and fees of the Deere plans. We also analyzed the damages methodology used by the plaintiffs’ experts and assisted counsel in understanding the ways in which the method was not appropriate.

Case Expert

Laura T. Starks

Charles E. and Sarah M. Seay Regents Chair in Finance;
McCombs School of Business,
University of Texas at Austin