Joseph Vellali, et al. v. Yale University, et al.

Analysis Group was retained by Mayer Brown on behalf of Yale University, the defendant in an ERISA class action that was believed to be the first such matter to go to a jury trial. A class of Yale employees alleged that Yale had breached its fiduciary duty by failing to prudently monitor the Yale University Retirement Account Plan’s investment lineup and recordkeeping fees. The plaintiffs initially sought damages of more than half a billion dollars.

An Analysis Group team led by Managing Principal D. Lee Heavner and Vice Presidents Andrew Stichman and Brian Thomas supported academic affiliate John Chalmers of the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, who testified at trial. Professor Chalmers opined that the at-issue investments were economically reasonable investment options for the Yale plan. He also testified that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ expert’s claim, there were no damages related to those investments. Finally, Professor Chalmers explained that the recordkeeping damages figure presented to the jury by the plaintiffs’ expert was flawed and inflated.

After a five-week trial, a jury in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut found in favor of the defendants on all counts related to the plan’s investments. The jury also determined that there was no loss to the plan from the defendants’ failure to monitor recordkeeping. The plaintiffs were awarded $0 in damages.

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