Class-action lawsuit filed against Vail Resorts over 401(k) retirement plan
A class-action lawsuit filed against Vail Resorts accuses the company of failing to effectively monitor 401(k) retirement plan investments.
The suit was filed Feb. 24 by Baird Quinn, Greg Coleman Law, Crueger Dickinson and Jordan Lewis, and it alleges that Vail Resorts is in breach of its fiduciary duties defined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The plaintiff, Debra Kurtz, who is a representative of the class of participants, claims she and all participants in the Vail Resorts 401(k) retirement plan suffered financial harm. The lawsuit focuses what it calls high administrative fees and poor net performance of the plan, which the plaintiff claims violate the company’s fiduciary duty.
“These investment options and unreasonable fees cannot be justified,” the lawsuit reads. “Their presence confirms more than simply sloppy business practice; their presence is the result of a breach of the fiduciary duties owed by Vail to plan participants and beneficiaries.”
The lawsuit outlines the scope of the company’s retirement plan, which had 8,276 participants at the end of 2018. The document uses a benchmarking analysis to determine that the expenses incurred by participants of the Vail Resorts 401(k) retirement plan are nearly double those of the mean among 19 comparator plans. The lawsuit claims Vail Resorts is liable to return the losses resulting from any breaches of fiduciary duty to retirement plan participants and give to plan participants the profits made by Vail Resorts through the use of 401(k) plan assets or resulting from breaches.
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As a class-action lawsuit, there are several steps to be taken before a potential trial ensues. Lewis said an actual trial might not be held for two to three years.
“The first thing that happens with the complaint is that it’s answered,” Lewis said. “(Vail Resorts) can file an answer, or they can file a motion to dismiss.”
Lewis said that in the first stage of the court process, the only record is the complaint. There are then potentially months in court as it is decided whether the case qualifies as a class-action lawsuit. Ultimately, a judge determines if the case is certified as class action. If the judge decides it isn’t, it becomes an individual case. If it does become a class action, there will be more discovery and a second round of motions before a trial ensues. Lewis added that because this is an Employee Retirement Income Security Act case, there are certain rules that the statute imposes, one of which is that there is no jury.
Keystone Resort spokeswoman Loryn Roberson declined a request for comment, saying Vail Resorts does not comment on pending litigation.