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US Department of Labor sues former North Carolina fabric mill, company president to restore nearly $145,000 to pension plan
LINCOLNTON , N.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Lincolnton-based Belding Hausman Inc. and President Curtis Wilford Stowe to restore $144,459 in employee contributions, employee loan repayments and lost earnings to the defunct company’s deferred compensation plan. The lawsuit follows an investigation by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration that found the defendants violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western Division of North Carolina, Statesville Division, the suit alleges that the defendants did not forward $59,230 in employee contributions and $72,703 in participant loan repayments to the plan but commingled those funds with the general assets of the company. The defendants’ failure to restore these funds to the plan caused participants to suffer $12,526 in lost earnings through July 2010.
EBSA is seeking a court order requiring the defendants to restore to the plan all losses, including interest and lost earnings, and that any funds from individual plan accounts belonging to the defendants be set off against the amount of losses. The suit also seeks to appoint an independent fiduciary to administer the plan at the defendants’ expense, and to permanently bar the defendants from serving as fiduciaries of any plan that is subject to ERISA.
“Fiduciaries are obligated to act solely in the interest of plan participants and not to use these plans for the benefit of themselves or their companies. The Labor Department will not tolerate fiduciaries who neglect their responsibilities under ERISA,” said Isabel Colon, acting director of EBSA’s regional office in Atlanta.
The case was investigated by EBSA’s Atlanta Regional Office and is being litigated by the department’s Atlanta Regional Solicitor’s Office. Employers and workers can contact EBSA’s Atlanta office at 404-302-3900 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems relating to private sector retirement and health plans. For more information, visit www.dol.gov/ebsa.
Solis v. Belding Hausman Inc.
Civil Action File Number 5:11-cv-00103-RLV-DCK
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