Nelsen et al. v. Principal Global Investors Trust Company et al.


The parties agreed to voluntarily dismiss this case involving allegations of ERISA violations.

Retained by Groom Law Group

The plaintiffs brought a class action on behalf of all 401(k) plan participants and beneficiaries whose retirement plans invested in the Principal LifeTime Hybrid Collective Investment Trusts. Counsel for Principal retained Cornerstone Research to support Russell Wermers of the University of Maryland in analyzing whether Principal used appropriate underlying funds in creating the LifeTime Hybrid Collective Investment Trusts.

The plaintiffs alleged that Principal failed in its fiduciary duty by using proprietary, unreasonably high-cost underlying funds to generate additional revenues for Principal. The plaintiffs proposed a set of alternative investments they claimed were more appropriate and sought to recover the differential in fees and performance as damages.

Professor Wermers opined that the LifeTime Hybrid Collective Investment Trusts were competitive in terms of performance and fees with other target-date funds and that Principal’s choice of underlying investments was reasonable. Analyzing the funds underlying the LifeTime Hybrid Collective Investment Trusts, he showed that these funds’ fees and tracking errors were in line with alternative investment options that Principal could have used.

Professor Wermers also demonstrated that, were Principal to have used the plaintiffs’ proposed set of alternative investments, it would have needed to recuperate lost revenue in ways that would have affected proposed class members differently.

After both sides’ experts submitted multiple expert reports and before a ruling on class certification, Principal and the plaintiffs jointly agreed to dismiss the case.

For more information on this case, contact Kivanç Kirgiz.

Case Expert

Russell R. Wermers

Bank of America Professor of Finance;
Director, Center for Financial Policy;
Robert H. Smith School of Business;
University of Maryland