Thinking ESOPs: Court Rejects DOL Claims of ESOP Overpayment

The board of directors of Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc. recently won an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) fiduciary/breach case brought against them by the Department of Labor. See Walsh v. Bowers, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00155-SOM-WRP (D. Haw. Sept. 17, 2021). After a full trial on the merits, the district-court judge entered judgment in favor of the defendants, largely based on the court’s rejection of the DOL’s critiques of the valuation upon which the trustee relied. What is perhaps most interesting about the court’s decision is the contrast between the discussion in this case of fundamental ERISA and valuation concepts, on the one hand, and the discussion of fundamental ERISA and valuation concepts in two other cases in which courts entered judgment against the defendants.

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About Author: Rick Pearl

A trusted authority on ERISA matters, Richard Pearl is passionate about representing trustees, plan sponsors, boards of directors, shareholders and service providers in high-stakes and complex ERISA matters. Rick has earned national recognition for his thought leadership, particularly in employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) litigation matters. He has an extensive knowledge of ERISA legislative history and complex issues. View all posts by and

About Author: Emily Kile-Maxwell

Emily Kile-Maxwell litigates complex commercial and employee benefits (ERISA) disputes through all phases of litigation, including on appeal. Emily represents commercial clients, benefit plans and plan fiduciaries, third-party administrators, and insurance companies in disputes and litigation, and also advises clients on benefit claim administration, plan administration and plan design. View all posts by and

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