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Boeing sued over 401(k) plan fees

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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill.&@151;Chicago-based Boeing Co. is the latest company to face allegations that it did not adequately monitor and disclose revenue-sharing fees for its $23.7 billion 401(k) plan.

The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, was filed late last month in federal district court in East St. Louis, Ill., by St. Louis-based law firm Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, which has filed comparable suits against eight other major companies.

The suit charges that Boeing breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by ignoring payments that 401(k) managers made to recordkeepers and other service providers and failing to disclose the fees to plan participants.

The suit also alleges that Boeing charged excessive management fees for the employer stock fund option and held too much of the stock fund's assets in cash, thus reducing participants' returns, according to attorney Jerome J. Schlichter.

A Boeing spokesman said, "The company does believe that our savings plan is structured appropriately and meets all the legal requirements."

The allegations in each of the lawsuits filed by Schlichter, Bogard & Denton "are unique to the particular company involved. There's nothing that should be read into this about any other plan" of other companies, according to Mr. Schlichter.

The other companies targeted by the firm's litigation are San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp.; Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc.; Chicago-based Exelon Corp.; Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp.; Memphis, Tenn.-based International Paper Co.; Bethesda Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp.; Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp.; and Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies Corp.