Department of Labor obtains federal court judgment to recover $153K in retirement funds for former employees of defunct Bay Area company
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a default judgment to recover $153,768 for four people whose former employer abandoned its employee retirement plan more than two decades ago, leaving no one to administer the plan and authorize distribution of its funds, a violation of federal law.
In response to a complaint filed by the department’s Regional Solicitor, the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of California issued a default judgment against Environmental Instrumentation Co. — a scientific instrument company formerly based in Concord — on Aug. 17 and appointed an independent third-party to serve as the new fiduciary for the company-sponsored plan.
The action follows an investigation by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration that found the company violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it deserted the plan after shuttering the business in 2002. EBSA opened this investigation into the abandoned plan to ensure all former employees could obtain the retirement funds owed to them. The department filed a complaint alleging the company’s violations on April 14, 2023.
“Environmental Instrumentation Co. failed to uphold its legal obligation to administer its employees’ retirement plan assets,” said Employee Benefits Security Administration Regional Director Klaus Placke in San Francisco. “Employees who expected that their retirement funds were protected as they faced unemployment found themselves unable to recover their retirement funds.”
The court named AMI Benefit Plan Administrators Inc., a Youngstown, Ohio company, as the new fiduciary for the Environmental Instrumentation Co.’s employee retirement plan.
ERISA requires fiduciaries operate employee benefit plans solely in the interest of participants and beneficiaries. Employers and workers, including potential participants related to this Concord-based company plan, can reach EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans.