DOL’s Fiduciary Rule Gets Early OK From Appeals Court

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By Jacklyn Wille

The Labor Department’s fiduciary rule survived another legal challenge on Dec. 15, when a federal appeals court in Washington refused to block the rule from being enforced ( Nat’l Ass’n for Fixed Annuities v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor , D.C. Cir., No. 16-5345, per curiam order 12/15/16 ).

In a one-paragraph order, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied an emergency injunction request brought by the National Association for Fixed Annuities. The industry group’s challenge to the rule was twicerejected by a district judge, as was a similar lawsuit by a Kansas insurance company. Other lawsuits attacking the rule are pending in Texas and Minnesota, with the next ruling expected to come from a Texas-based judge appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

Uncertain Future

Despite its winning track record in court, the fiduciary rule—which is aimed at reducing the allegedly conflicted investment advice given to retirement savers—faces an uncertain future in the Trump administration. Neither Donald Trump nor his pick for labor secretary, fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, has commented publicly on the rule, but Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci has promised that the rule is destined for repeal.

The D.C. Circuit’s order was joined by Judges Karen L. Henderson, David S. Tatel and Sri Srinivasan. The judges didn’t offer a written explanation for the decision, other than to say that NAFA “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for an injunction pending appeal.”

NAFA is represented by Bryan Cave LLP.

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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