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MetLife subsidiary to resolve EPA claims, ERISA lawsuit

MetLife Inc. subsidiary Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. will pay to settle the Environmental Protection Agency's claims of costs related to a site cleanup and resolve a lawsuit over its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The EPA in July 2010 alleged that Metropolitan Life Insurance, as a successor to New England Mutual Life, and a third party owed costs under 1989 and 1992 agreements for the oversight and cleanup of a Superfund site in Florida.

The parties in September 2012 carried out an agreement under which Metropolitan Life and the third party agreed to take responsibility for some ongoing environmental testing at the Chemform Inc. site. On July 19, the EPA, Metropolitan Life and a third party executed a settlement agreement to resolve the agency's claims for costs incurred through that date with respect to the Chemform site.

A class-action lawsuit against Metropolitan Life was filed on April 17, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of people for whom the MetLife subsidiary created a total control account to pay death benefits under an ERISA plan. The lawsuit alleges that the MetLife subsidiary's use of the total control account to settle life insurance benefits under a few group life insurance policies violates its fiduciary duties under ERISA.

The court on Sept. 27, 2016, denied Metropolitan Life's summary judgment motion in full and granted plaintiff's partial summary judgment motion. More than a year later, the court certified a nationwide class and a Georgia subclass.

On July 29, the court preliminarily approved a proposed settlement under which Metropolitan Life agreed to pay $80 million to resolve the claims of all class members. The settlement does not constitute an admission of any fault, liability, or wrongdoing by the MetLife subsidiary, according to a Form 10-Q filing.