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With plaintiffs targeting employee benefit plans at an accelerating speed, Paul, Weiss has built an exceptional practice defending plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers in the technically demanding, high-stakes arena of ERISA, pension- and employee benefits-related class actions and related litigation. We are also among the preeminent firms nationally in handling the securities litigation that frequently accompanies ERISA disputes.

Kraft Heinz Savings Plan Trustees and Company Officers Win Motion to Dismiss ERISA Class Action

Paul, Weiss achieved a significant victory for certain current and former trustees of The Kraft Heinz Company’s savings plan and Kraft Heinz officers when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted their motion to dismiss a putative ERISA class action. The plaintiffs were current and former employees who were participants in and beneficiaries of the Kraft Heinz savings plan who invested in the company’s common stock during the period May 4, 2017 through February 21, 2019.

In their amended complaint filed in June 2019, the plaintiffs alleged that the company’s savings plan trustees breached their duty of prudence under ERISA by allowing plan participants and beneficiaries to continue investing in Kraft Heinz stock while knowing that its price was artificially inflated. Instead, the plaintiffs alleged, the plan’s trustees should have tried to persuade company officers to disclose earlier that certain of the company’s goodwill and intangible assets had become impaired. They further alleged that certain Kraft Heinz officers breached their duty to monitor the trustees by not removing them and appointing new trustees.

In dismissing the complaint, the court ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to plead that an earlier disclosure was so clearly beneficial that a prudent fiduciary could not conclude it would be more likely to harm the savings plan than to help it. The court further found that the claim against the Kraft Heinz officers failed because the plaintiffs had not plausibly alleged an underlying breach of fiduciary duty against the trustees.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Daniel Kramer, Andrew Ehrlich and William Clareman.

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