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News Release

Labor Department Sues Minneapolis Company, Retirement Plan Official For Violating Federal Pension Law

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

The U.S. Department of Labor today sued two Minneapolis-based companies and their retirement plan official for self-dealing violations of federal pension law which resulted in losses to the plan’s participants.

The defendants are Metal Masters of Minneapolis, Inc.; JRS Enterprises Inc.; the companies’ retirement savings plan and Janet Bjornstad, the retirement plan trustee. Metal Masters, incorporated in 1964, originally made gears but now does turning, milling and precision machining. JRS, which overhauls World War II airplances, is headquartered with Metal Masters; and Bjornstad serves both companies as chief executive officer.

The companies established the participant-directed defined contribution plan on May 2, 1990, to provide retirement, death and disability benefits to their employees. The plan had $133,481 in assets and 13 participants as of Dec. 31, 1996.

According to the department’s lawsuit, voluntary employee contributions withheld from their paychecks from the period March 1, 1996 through Nov. 30, 1998, were not remitted to the plan in a timely fashion, and during the period of Dec. 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998, no withheld contributions were forwarded to the plan at all. The lawsuit alleges the monies intended for the savings plan were retained in the companies’ general asset fund.

The department is seeking to have the defendants restore the losses, plus interest, resulting from their breaches of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The complaint seeks to have Bjornstad removed from her position with the plan and permanently barred from serving as a fiduciary to any plan covered by ERISA. The complaint also seeks to have the court name an independent fiduciary to manage the plan.

The lawsuit resulted from an investigation conducted by the Kansas City Regional Office of the department’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration into alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The complaint was filed April 22 in federal district court in Minneapolis.

(Herman v. Metal Masters of Minneapolis, Inc..)
Civil Action No. 99 -CV -632

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7755.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Phone Number: 202.219.8921

Employee Benefits Security Administration
April 26, 1999
Release Number