For Immediate Release: January 11, 2012
Contact: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Release Number: 12-32-CHI
US Labor Department recovers more than $114,000 for
profit-sharing plan of defunct Mentor, Ohio, company
Trustee improperly transferred employees’ retirement assets to his son
CLEVELAND – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent order and judgment requiring Harry Fishleigh III, president and part owner of defunct North Coast Wood Products Inc. in Mentor, to restore a total of $114,176.86 to the company’s profit-sharing plan, for which he was the trustee. The order and judgment, entered in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, resolve a lawsuit filed by the department alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
“We are pleased that North Coast Wood Products workers will have their hard-earned retirement money put back into their accounts with interest. This case demonstrates a clear breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the trustee,” said L. Joe Rivers, director of the Cincinnati Regional Office of the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. “The Labor Department is committed to helping workers keep every penny they earn so that they can continue to provide for themselves and their families during retirement.”
The company ceased operations in late 2005. Fishleigh improperly transferred the total plan assets of $96,837.63 belonging to 11 plan participants to his son Stephen between July 2006 and July 2009. Lost interest totaling $17,339.23 also is owed to the participants.
The judgment also requires Fishleigh to pay $2,941.95 to cover the fees and costs of an independent fiduciary appointed by the court to oversee the distribution of plan assets to affected participants and terminate the plan. Additionally, Fishleigh has been permanently barred from serving as a fiduciary or service provider to any employee benefit plan covered by ERISA. He must restore the assets and pay the required fees within 30 days of the consent judgment.
The department’s legal action resulted from an investigation by EBSA’s Cincinnati office. Employers and workers can contact that office at 859-578-4680 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for assistance with problems related to private sector pension and health plans.
EBSA protects the security of the retirement, health and other workplace-related benefits of America’s workers, retirees and their families. The agency oversees approximately 708,000 private sector retirement plans, 2.8 million health plans and other plans that provide benefits to more than 150 million Americans. Collectively, these plans hold more than $6 trillion in assets. Additional information can be found at www.dol.gov/ebsa.
Solis v. Harry Fishleigh III, North Coast Wood Products Profit Sharing Plan
Civil Action Number: 1:11-cv-00936
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.