Columbia University - retirement plan
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Columbia University’s retirement plan participants may be eligible to benefit from a $13 million class action settlement agreement.

This Class includes all participants and beneficiaries of the Retirement Plan for Officers of Columbia University and the Columbia University Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan from Aug. 10, 2010, through March 31, 2021.

Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit claimed Columbia University violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) through its management, administration, and management of the 403(b) plans, including allowing excessive fees and imprudent investments.

Columbia University had more than 18,000 full-time staff members and more than 4,000 full-time faculty as of fall 2020.

There are an estimated 30,000 Class Members, according to the settlement notice.

The school’s trustees have denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and the Court has not ruled in favor of either party.

Columbia University 403(b) Plan Settlement Benefits

After attorneys’ fees and other expenses are deducted, Class Members will receive a proportionate share of the settlement fund.

The individual payment amounts for Class Members who are considered current plan participants will be based on records kept by the plans’ record keepers. 

If as of March 31, 2021, the Class Member no longer had a plan account or their account had no money in it, they will be considered a former participant, and their payment will be based on their Former Participant Claim Form.

The settlement administrator will perform the calculations for individual distributions.

To be eligible to receive a payment, the Class Member must be a current or former participant or a beneficiary, alternate payee, or an attorney-in-fact of the participant.

Any payment amount that calculates at $10 or less will not be distributed because it would cost more to process than its value.

No payments will be distributed until the Court grants final approval and any appeals are resolved.

A final fairness hearing in the Columbia University 403(b) plan settlement will take place Oct. 12, 2021.

Those who wish to object to the settlement must do so by Sept. 12, 2021.

Current plan participants do not need to take any action to benefit from the settlement.

However, former plan participants must submit a Former Participant Claim Form online or postmarked by Sept. 28, 2021, in order to receive a portion of the net settlement amount.

Who’s Eligible

This Class includes all participants and beneficiaries of the Retirement Plan for Officers of Columbia University and the Columbia University Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan from Aug. 10, 2010, through March 31, 2021.

Potential Award


Proof of Purchase

A completed Substitute IRS Form W-9

Former Participant Claim Form

NOTE: If you do not qualify for this settlement do NOT file a claim.

Remember: you are submitting your claim under penalty of perjury. You are also harming other eligible Class Members by submitting a fraudulent claim. If you’re unsure if you qualify, please read the FAQ section of the Settlement Administrator’s website to ensure you meet all standards (Top Class Actions is not a Settlement Administrator). If you don’t qualify for this settlement, check out our database of other open class action settlements you may be eligible for.

Former Participant Claim Form Deadline


Case Name

Cates v. the Trustees of Columbia University in New York, Case No. 16-CV-06524 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Final Hearing


Settlement Website
Claims Administrator

Columbia University 403(b) Settlement Administrator, 
1650 Arch St. Suite 2210, 
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Class Counsel

Andrew D. Schlichter
Jerome J. Schlichter
Heather Lea
Joel D. Rohlf
Nathan H. Emmons

Defense Counsel

E. Brantley Webb
Michelle N. Webster

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Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

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