PHILADELPHIA - United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez has stepped into a
dispute between a Berks County dental office and its employees with a federal lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that claims that the employees' contributions to the retirement program were never remitted.
The suit seeks damages in the form of full reimbursement plus interest and lost opportunity costs to the retirement programs by Lisa Ferrari and her husband and office manager Clifton Casey. Perez also demands that all books, documents and records relating the practice's finances and administration of the retirement plan turned over to his office and to an independent fiduciary agent that will take over administration of the program.
According to the complaint, Ferrari, a dentist with offices in Douglassville, created an employee retirement program on Jan. 1, 2007. The program permitted participants to contribute a portion of their pay to the plan as elective salary deferrals through payroll deductions.
The claim alleges that during the pay periods for the following two years, the salary deferrals were collected by Ferrari and Casey, but the payments were not remitted to the retirement plan.
Instead, the complaint says, the money was rolled into the practice's general asset budget. The defendants also took steps to conceal actions they knew were violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the complaint says.
According to the court documents, Ferrari and Casey violated ERISA by failing to keep the contributions into the intended trust and used the money for the benefit of the business. The defendants did not uphold their fiduciary responsibility to properly manage the assets by failing to find a third party who could allocate the funds correctly.
The complaint calls for Ferrari and Casey to be removed of responsibility for the retirement plan and any employee benefit program. The ask the court to grant an injunction preventing the defendants access to the accounts and the appointment of a third party agent whose cost would be covered by Ferrari and Casey.
The federal case ID is 5:15-cv-00160-JLS.