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Berkshire Hathaway Settlement

Welcome to the Hunter v. Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. settlement website. This website is intended to keep Class members informed regarding the Class Action Settlement. The content of this website is the responsibility of Plaintiffs’ Counsel and has not been approved by the Court.

On January 28, 2020, the Honorable Terry R. Means granted preliminary approval of a Settlement in this action.

Background

This case, Hunter v. Berkshire Hathaway Inc., No. 4:14-cv-663-Y (N.D. Tex.) (the “Action”) involves the Acme Brick Company Pension Plan (“the Pension Plan”) and the Acme Brick Company 401(k) Plan (“the 401(k) Plan”) (collectively, “the Plans”).

In the Action, Plaintiffs Judy Hunter, Anita Gray, and Bobby Lynn Allen (“Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendant Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (“Berkshire Hathaway” or “Defendant”) violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), and the terms of the Pension Plan and the 401(k) Plan by (a) causing Acme Building Brands, Inc. (“Acme”) to freeze accruals of benefits under the Pension Plan as of October 1, 2014, and (b) causing Acme to reduce the employer’s matching percentage of contributions to the 401(k) Plan between 2010 and 2013.

Plaintiffs filed the Action on behalf of themselves and affected participants in the Plans after the Pension Plan was frozen in 2014. The District Court initially dismissed their complaint but in 2016 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the complaint against Berkshire Hathaway only. After litigating for several more years, the parties participated in a Court-ordered mediation before a nationally-known arbitrator, and reached a compromise with the mediator’s assistance.  Plaintiffs and Defendant signed a Class Action Settlement Agreement (the “Settlement Agreement”) on November 27, 2019. Judge Means granted preliminary approval of the Settlement Agreement on January 28, 2020, and set a fairness hearing on May 13, 2020, to determine whether to finally approve the Settlement.

The Settlement Class

On January 28, 2020, preliminary approval of the Settlement was granted on behalf of the following Classes:

A. The Pension-Plan Settlement Class: All participants and former participants in the Acme Brick Company Pension Pan who were employed by Acme on October 4, 2014, together with their respective beneficiaries.

B. The 401(k) Plan Settlement Class: All participants and former participants in the Acme Brick Company 401(k) Retirement and Savings Plan who contributed to an account with the 401(k) Plan at any time between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013, together with their respective beneficiaries. Excluded from the 401(k) Settlement Class are participants and former participants for whom the employer’s matching contribution between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013, was established by a collective-bargaining agreement.

Benefits to the Settlement Classes

The Settlement provides for the following benefits:

  • To Members of the Pension Plan Settlement Class: The proposed Settlement would extend the freeze date for the Pension Plan from October 4, 2014 to July 15, 2017 (so eligible participants in the Pension Plan will accrue up to an additional two years and ten months’ worth of benefits). See Section 6.1.2 of the Settlement Agreement  for additional details regarding benefits to the Pension Plan Settlement Class.
  • To Members of the 401(k) Plan Settlement Class: The proposed Settlement would provide for Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000) to be paid proportionately to participants in the 401(k) Plan during 2010-2013.  Payment will be made by deposit into the 401(k) Plan account of Class Members where available, and otherwise as provided in the Plan of Allocation detailed in Section 6.1.3 of the Settlement Agreement.     

The above description of the operation of the Settlement is only a summary. The governing provisions are set forth in the Settlement Agreement.

The Settlement

As a result of the Settlement, the Classes release certain claims against Berkshire Hathaway, Acme, and related persons pertaining to the Plans (these claims are described in the Amended Complaint).

The Class Representatives and their attorneys believe that this Settlement is in the best interests of the Class members.

A Final Hearing, sometimes referred to as a Fairness Hearing, will be held on May 13, 2020 at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The Court will consider the proposed Settlement’s fairness at that time, along with Class Counsel’s application for fees, expenses, and case contribution awards to the named plaintiffs, and will decide whether to enter an order approving the Settlement.

Settlement FAQs

Q: How do I know whether I am part of the one of the Settlement Classes?

The Court has certified this case as a class action for settlement purposes only. You are a member of one of the Settlement Classes if you are a person described in the class definitions set out in Section III, above. You may be a member of both of the Settlement Classes.

Q: What does the Settlement provide?

The Settlement provides for the following benefits:

  • To Members of the Pension Plan Settlement Class: The proposed Settlement would extend the freeze date for the Pension Plan from October 4, 2014 to July 15, 2017 (so eligible participants in the Pension Plan will accrue up to an additional two years and ten months’ worth of benefits). See Section 6.1.2 of the Settlement Agreement for additional details regarding benefits to the Pension Plan Settlement Class.
  • To Members of the 401(k) Plan Settlement Class: The proposed Settlement would provide for Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000) to be paid proportionately to participants in the 401(k) Plan during 2010-2013. See Section 6.1.3 of the Settlement Agreement for additional details regarding benefits to the 401(k) Plan Settlement Class.    

The above description of the operation of the Settlement is only a summary. The governing provisions are set forth in the Settlement Agreement.

Q: How will the Settlement be distributed?

If the Settlement is approved:

  • Members of the Pension Plan Settlement Class, for purposes of calculating retirement benefits, will be treated as having continued to accrue additional benefits after October 4, 2014, through the earlier of July 15, 2017, or the date on which they were no longer employed by Acme. Additional information regarding the Pension Plan settlement distribution is contained in Section 6.1.2 of the Settlement Agreement.
  • Payment of settlement amounts to Members of the 401(k) Settlement Class will be made by deposit into the 401(k) Plan account of each Class Member where available. If no such 401(k) account is available for a 401(k) Settlement Class Member, reasonable steps will be taken to cause amounts of at least $25 due any 401(k) Settlement Class Member who no longer has an account in the 401(k) Plan to be paid to or as directed by such person, as further detailed in Section 6.1.3 of the Settlement Agreement.

Q: What do I need to do to be included in the Settlement?

Members of the Settlement Class do not need to do anything with respect to the Settlement in this Action.

Q: How will the lawyers be paid?

Court-appointed Class Counsel will file a motion for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses, including case contribution awards for the Named Plaintiffs, for the Court’s consideration at the Fairness Hearing on May 13, 2020. Payment of attorneys’ fees and expenses does not reduce the settlement amount to the Settlement Classes. Case contribution awards to Named Plaintiffs, if approved, will be paid out of the 401(k) Settlement Class amount.

Q: What if I don’t agree with the Settlement?

If you wish to object to any part of the Settlement, you can write to the Court and explain why you object to the Settlement no later than April 24, 2020. Details about how to do this are contained in the Class Notice. (The objection date has been extended from April 13, 2020 to April 24, 2020, by Court order.)

Q: Can I opt out of the Settlement?

You cannot opt out of the Settlement.

Q: Can I attend the Final Approval Hearing on May 13, 2020?

Class Counsel will answer questions Judge Means may have. You are welcome to come to the hearing at your own expense.

Q: Can I appear at the Final Approval Hearing on May 13, 2020?

If you are a Settlement Class Member and you have filed a timely written objection, you may appear at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter or other paper called a “Notice of Intention to Appear at Final Approval Hearing. Details about how to do this are contained in the Class Notice.

The date and time of the Final Approval Hearing may change without further notice to the Settlement Class. You should confirm the date and time on this Settlement website or the Court’s PACER site mentioned in the Class Notice.

Q: How do I get more information if I still have questions?

You can contact Class Counsel, who may be reached by phone at (888) 684-6562 or by email at .