Compass Lexecon Clients CenturyLink and CenturyLink Investment Management Prevail in ERISA Class Action

Plaintiffs in this litigation claimed that Defendants breached their fiduciary duties by creating the Active Large Cap U.S. Stock Fund and maintaining it as an investment option for Plan participants and as one of the investments underlying the Plan’s target date funds. On March 5, 2020, United States District Judge Christine M. Arguello, of the District of Colorado, ruled in favor of Compass Lexecon clients CenturyLink and CenturyLink Investment Management (CIM), granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgement.

Compass Lexecon provided support for Charles M. Porten, an investment management industry expert who was retained by CenturyLink and CIM to review the processes that Defendants used to design, manage, operate and administer the disputed funds and to provide an opinion regarding Defendants’ compliance with industry standards. The Court recognized Mr. Porten’s more than three decades of experience in the investment management industry and relied on Mr. Porten’s opinions that Defendants’ design, management, oversight and monitoring of the Active Large Cap U.S. Stock Fund and the Plan’s target date funds were consistent with industry standards. In particular, the Court found that “CIM has shown that it satisfied its duty of prudence with respect to the Fund’s design” based on “the robust procedures involved in designing the Fund and Mr. Porten’s assessment that those procedures were comprehensive and consistent with industry standards…” Likewise, the Court found that “CIM has shown that it satisfied its duty of prudence with respect to its monitoring procedures” based on, among other things, Mr. Porten’s conclusion that “the process used by CIM to monitor the [Fund] was very comprehensive, analytical and reflects thorough due diligence, consistent with industry standards.”

Mr. Porten was assisted by a team at Compass Lexecon led by Adel Turki and Constance Kelly. Compass Lexecon worked closely with attorneys at Jenner & Block LLP, including Craig C. Martin, Matt D. Basil, Amanda S. Amert, Laura L. Norris and Michele L. Slachetka.