Chamber of Commerce, Texas Association of Business, et al. v. Department of Labor (Fiduciary Rule)

Lawsuit Filed to Challenge New Department of Labor Rule That Prevents Financial Professionals from Best Serving Retirement Savers

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texas Association of BusinessGreater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of CommerceLake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, Lubbock Chamber of CommerceFinancial Services Institute, Financial Services Roundtable, Insured Retirement Institute, and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association filed a legal challenge to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule for brokers and registered investment advisers serving Americans with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans.

In a joint statement, the Chief Executive Officers of the five national association co-plaintiffs noted the following:

“Our organizations have a long, well-documented record of support for the creation of a uniform best interest – or fiduciary – standard of customer care for financial professionals providing personalized investment advice to retail investors.  The Department of Labor’s new, 1,023-page rule, however, creates sweeping changes to existing regulations that will make saving for retirement more difficult for the very same hardworking American families and individuals it claims to protect. It specifically hinders many of our member firms’ ability to continue providing the level of holistic financial advice and suitable investment options their clients are accustomed to.

“Instead of helping savers plan for retirement, the new rule will unfortunately restrict their access to affordable retirement advice and limit their options for saving. The rule will shackle Main Street financial advisors with extensive new requirements and constant liability, forcing them to limit the options and guidance they provide to retirement savers. 

“Advisors servicing small business plans will similarly be left with no choice but to limit or stop servicing the retirement plans offered by those job-creators, significantly reducing the retirement savings options available to their millions of employees. These consequences collectively reinforce that government officials failed to perform an adequate cost-benefit analysis during the rule’s development.

“Our organizations are now asking a court to review whether the Department of Labor overstepped its boundaries, creating a rule that will leave Americans with fewer retirement choices, higher costs and reduced access to professional financial advice. Further the ‘private right of action’ mechanism creates significant new legal risk for financial advisors, who will face the threat of class action lawyers challenging their every move. 

“This lawsuit is necessary to prevent the Labor Department from exceeding the authority that was assigned to it Congress.  More importantly, it will protect retirement savers and our member firms, who are committed to their financial futures.”

The industry plaintiffs are represented by Eugene Scalia, Jason J. Mendro, Paul Blankenstein, Rachel E. Mondl, and James C. Ho of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Procedural History: 

U.S. Chamber, et al. complaint filed 6/1/2016.

Argued 11/17/2016.

Decided 2/9/2017.  Click here to view the Chamber's subsequent appeal in the Fifth Circuit.