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U. settles retirement fund lawsuit for $5.8M

<h6>José Pablo Fernández García / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
José Pablo Fernández García / The Daily Princetonian

The University has paid a $5.8 million settlement “plus therapeutic relief” to retirement plan holders in the class action lawsuit of Elysee Nicolas v. The Trustees of Princeton University, according to a motion filed on July 28.

The lawsuit alleged that the University permitted poor investments and inappropriately contracted two recordkeepers instead of one, thus incurring an unnecessary increase in fees.

University Spokesperson Ben Chang maintained the institution’s previous stance, writing in a statement to The Daily Princetonian that “Princeton did not engage in any wrongdoing.”

This deal may benefit around 24,000 people who had savings within the University’s retirement plans.

In addition to the $5.8 million payout, the University agreed to “therapeutic relief” measures — agreeing to use its “commercially reasonable best efforts” to reduce fees for the next three years, look for other plan service providers through a Request for Proposal process, and do constant reevaluations of the investment options offered. The University also agreed not to increase recordkeeping fees for a three-year period.

“Princeton disputes the allegations made in the complaint and remains confident the University would have prevailed in litigation. However, we believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all of the parties involved and resolves this matter amicably without additional expenditures on the defense of the lawsuit,” Chang wrote.

“The investment fund lineup has not changed,” he added. “The plans remain financially stable and well-administered.”

A preliminary settlement was announced in April, but the terms were not disclosed until July. 

Elysee Nicolas and his attorneys of record, Eric Lechtzin and Joseph J. DePalma, did not respond to requests for comment.

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