As most of you know, the DOL suffered a major setback in the challenge brought by ASA where the court vacated a foundational element of DOL’s new interpretation of the five part test. The court said DOL cannot aggregate rollover advice given to an employer plan participant with subsequent IRA advice for purposes of satisfying the regular basis element of the five part test used to determine fiduciary status. At first the DOL filed an appeal but then withdrew its appeal and now is asking the Magistrate Judge in FACC’s case for more time to address whether the entirety of its new interpretation is rendered unworkable by the ASA decision.
The ASA Order nullifies one of the challenged FAQs on the ground that the policy referenced therein was not a reasonable interpretation of the text of ERISA or the five-part test. Specifically, the court rejected a key element of the DOL’s New Interpretation, which provides that the regular basis requirement for determining fiduciary status will be satisfied in the case of an Investment Professional’s advice to an ERISA plan member with respect to a rollover transaction based on the provision or anticipated provision of post-rollover advice to the IRA owner.
This is a statutory construction case. And as such, we believe there’s a basic principle that can and should guide the Court’s decision in matters of statutory construction as it does in matters — many matters under the law. And that — that principle is: Words have meaning. In this particular case, we have the luxury, not often afforded to litigants, that the Fifth Circuit has given us very clear direction as to the meaning of the statute in question arising out of the last time the Department of Labor sought to redefine who’s a “fiduciary” under ERISA.
HLF has a strong interest in this case. The DOL preamble being challenged by the Plaintiffs . . . would resurrect much of the very harmful 2016 Fiduciary Rule in a manner that directly conflicts with the 2018 decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (“Fifth Circuit”) invalidating that rule . . . . If DOL is permitted to flout the court’s mandate, the New Interpretation will have the disastrous effect on individuals saving for retirement—especially Hispanic and Black Americans—that was shown to have occurred by the HLF Fiduciary Study.
The DOL’s principal defense of the New Interpretation comes down to little more than the fact that it pays lip service to the opinion in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. United States Department of Labor, 885 F.3d 360 (5th Cir. 2018). According to the DOL,
FACC v. DOL Brief July 15, 2022 This lawsuit presents the question of whether the DOL will be permitted to make an end run around a judgment rendered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Through a strained reinterpretation of a long-standing regulation, the DOL has
Dear Friends, We wish to keep friends and colleagues advised of developments in our case as we had with our letter back in February – in which we explained the timing and rationale for our action against the U.S. Department of Labor – challenging its reinterpretation of the five-part test and withdrawal of the Deseret Letter all of which improperly expands the reach of ERISA and fiduciary requirements.
Please open the link below to read a letter prepared by FACC regarding our DOL lawsuit. We hope the letter provides industry colleagues with some insights about our legal action which we see as a critical component of industry efforts addressing DOL developments. The letter – among other things –