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News Release

US Department of Labor sues defunct Minnesota land clearing company and owners to recover retirement plan assets

SCANDIA, Minn. – The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Thommes and Thomas Land Clearing Inc. of Scandia and its owners in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota for their alleged failure to remit and timely forward employee contributions owed to the company’s retirement plan, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The suit alleges that the company and owners John Thommes and Thomas Benick failed to remit $18,695.23 in employee contributions to the company’s savings incentive match plan for employees’ retirement accounts from Jan. 7, 2005, to Dec. 13, 2008. The plan money allegedly was comingled with the general assets of the company and used for purposes unrelated to the plan. In addition, the defendants allegedly failed to timely remit $31,941.36 in contributions withheld from employees’ paychecks over the same period of time.

The company sponsored the plan for five employees until it ceased operations in 2009.

The department’s suit seeks to restore to the plan all losses plus interest and to require the defendants to undo any prohibited transactions they performed. In addition, the suit asks the court to remove the company, Thommes and Benick as fiduciaries of the plan and to permanently bar them from serving in a fiduciary capacity to any plan governed by ERISA.

“This case sends a strong message that the Labor Department will hold accountable those who are entrusted with employee contributions,” said Steve Eischen, director of the Kansas City, Mo., office of the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. “The department will vigorously pursue violations of the law to ensure that plan assets are protected and available to pay future benefits to workers.”

This case resulted from an investigation conducted by EBSA’s Kansas City Regional Office. Employers and workers can reach that office at 816-285-1800 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems relating to private sector retirement and health plans. For more information, see

Solis v. Thommes and Thomas Land Clearing Inc.
Civil Action No.: 0:11-cv-00041-MJD -FLN

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Employee Benefits Security Administration
January 11, 2011
Release Number