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The Hartford Wins Excessive Fee Suit; Russell Lawsuit is Terminated, Among other Dismissals

A U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey delivered a victory to the Hartford Investment Financial Services Group and Hartford Funds Management in a lawsuit filed by shareholders in six sub-advised mutual funds managed by the firm. The shareholders alleged that the firm retained too much of the management fee while the sub-adviser performed the majority of the advisory services for the funds. The court concluded that: “the nature of the services provided by Defendants, the quality of those services, and Defendants’ profitability do not suggest that the fee is so disproportionate that it could not have been negotiated at arm’s-length.Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not carried their burden of proof.”  The Hartford’s win follows another trial victory by AXA Equitable last year on similar shareholder allegations brought under Section 36(b) of the 1940 Act. Another Section 36(b) suit filed against Russell Investments was terminated without entry of judgment on February 28, 2017 days before trial was to begin in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. Recently, Section 36(b) cases filed against firms such as Prudential, SEI and Harris Associates have been terminated or dismissed.