Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ERISA Class Action
A Settlement was approved by a federal court in Missouri in a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and certain of its current and former directors and officers (“Wal-Mart”) and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., Merrill Lynch Trust Company of America, and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (“Merrill Lynch”) (collectively, “Defendants”), that alleged breaches of fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), in connection with the Plan. The lawsuit alleged that certain fees and expenses charged to the Plan and to certain individual Plan participant accounts by mutual fund companies and collected by Merrill Lynch were excessive in light of the size of the Plan and that the excessive fees were charged without properly disclosing them to Wal-Mart, the Plan, or Plan participants. Defendants denied any liability in the Action.
The Court entered its final order and judgment on March 19, 2012, approving the Settlement and plan of allocation.
The Settlement provided for a payment of $13.5 million, paid by Merrill Lynch and by Wal-Mart and/or its insurer, to settle all claims against Defendants. The Settlement proceeds, minus Court-approved fees and expenses were paid directly to the Plan to be used by the Plan to pay Plan expenses and administration fees, which reduced fees what otherwise would be charged to individual Plan accounts.
Additionally, the Settlement provided for the Retirement Plans Committee’s continued offering of low-cost investment options, as well as new information about fees and improvements to participant education about saving for retirement.