DOL Seeks Consolidation of Fiduciary Rule Lawsuits

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By Jacklyn Wille

June 20 — The labor secretary wants to consolidate three of the five recent lawsuits challenging the DOL's new fiduciary rule, which sets higher standards for those providing investment advice to retirement savers ( Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Perez , N.D. Tex., No. 3:16-cv-01476-M, unopposed motion for consolidation filed 6/17/16 ).

The secretary filed a motion June 17 seeking consolidation of the three cases filed in a Dallas federal court. The groups bringing these lawsuits—which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Council of Life Insurers and the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council—didn't oppose the secretary's motion.

The secretary faces two other legal challenges to the fiduciary rule; they are pending in federal courts in Washington, D.C., and Kansas.

In the Kansas case, Market Synergy Group Inc. asked the court June 17 to enjoin the secretary from enforcing portions of the rule affecting the sale of fixed indexed annuities. According to the Kansas insurance agency, the department's regulation of these products threatens to “obliterate” the longstanding relationships between independent insurance agents and their clients.

The National Association for Fixed Annuities also sought an injunction in the case it filed in Washington, arguing that the department's regulations will have an “immediate and devastating effect on the fixed annuity industry.”

The judge hearing NAFA's case scheduled a hearing for Aug. 25.

So far, none of the groups that filed suit in Texas are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the department from enforcing its regulations while the lawsuits are pending.

The secretary's motion for consolidation was filed by Benjamin C. Mizer, John R. Parker, Judry L. Subar, Galen N. Thorp and Emily S. Newton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com

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