The US Supreme Court held Monday in Thole v. US Bank that plaintiffs who have not experienced an actual financial injury cannot sue pension fund managers.
In this case, plaintiffs James Thole and Sherry Smith sued US Bank under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to allege that the defendants violated the act by poorly investing their assets. Both the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs lacked standing.
The Supreme Court agreed, stating that an ERISA participant does not have an “equitable or property interest in the plan.” The plaintiffs experienced no injury in fact, and “Article III standing requires a concrete injury even in the context of a statutory violation.” Because the plaintiffs had not personally experienced an injury by the managers’ actions, they could not establish that they had Article III standing.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented.