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November 27, 2007
Supreme Court Hears 401(k) Case

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case testing whether an employee can sue an employer for mishandling his or her 401(k) account, the New York Times reports.

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In the case, an employee asked his employer, a consulting firm, to switch from one mutual fund to another, but the employer never made the change. The mistake cost the employee $150,000 in lost profits, the newspaper reports.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act allows the recovery of "any losses to the plan" that were caused by a fiduciary breach. The question before the Supreme Court is whether that provision applies to losses to an individual account.

The employee's attorney and an attorney representing the Labor Department argued that if an individual account suffers a loss because of fiduciary breach, the plan has suffered a loss.

The newspaper reports that if the questions and comments by the justices are any indication, the Supreme Court seems likely to rule in the employee's favor.

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