August 31, 2016

Stris & Maher Client One of Only Two Amici To Be Heard in Major Industry Challenge to Dep’t of Labor Fiduciary Rule

This morning, the judge presiding over a major industry challenge to the Obama Administration’s new fiduciary rule agreed to consider the briefs of only two amici. One was authored by Stris & Maher on behalf of the Financial Planning Coalition, a collaboration of leading national organizations of financial planners.

In her order, Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn for the Northern District of Texas determined that our firm’s “proposed brief provided a unique perspective.” As she noted, “[t]he Coalition is the lone amicus representative of financial professionals in the United States already operating under a fiduciary standard, and is therefore able to provide a practical perspective different from that of the parties.”

The underlying lawsuit was filed against the Obama Administration’s Labor Department by nine major industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Represented by Eugene Scalia, the son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and himself a former Solicitor of Labor under George W. Bush, the industry groups are seeking to invalidate the Labor Department’s new fiduciary rule. The rule is aimed at stamping out conflicts of interest in retirement advice that cost American families an estimated $17 billion a year. It was developed by the Obama administration after half a decade of study.

Given the stakes, several prominent organizations on both sides of the issue filed proposed amicus briefs with the court. As the National Law Journal reports, Judge Lynn nonetheless “denied considering all but two….”

Coverage by Plan Adviser explains the “three critical points of argument” presented in our brief, which another article today described as “staunchly pro-DOL and pro-fiduciary.” Our brief will be considered in connection with a pending summary judgment motion, which will be argued on November 17, 2016.

Brendan Maher and Douglas Geyser of our Dallas office authored the successful motion and amicus brief. Our papers can be accessed here (motion) and here (brief).

For more information, please contact Brendan Maher at (214) 396-6631 or brendan.maher@strismaher.com.

Coverage linked above: 
Texas Judge Restricts Amicus Briefs in DOL ‘Fiduciary Rule’ Case (National Law Journal, August 31, 2016)
Texas Judge Rejects Most Support Briefs in DOL Fiduciary Litigation (Plan Adviser, August 31, 2016)
Financial Planning Coalition Stands With DOL in Court Battle (Plan Adviser, August 26, 2016)

Related press coverage:
Judge Blocks Groups From Lawsuit Over DOL Fiduciary Rule (Bloomberg BNA, September 2, 2016)
Financial Planning Coalition Argues For DOL Fiduciary Rule (Law360, August 31, 2016) (subscription required)

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