This page provides the answers to class members’ most frequently asked questions.

The information provided is in summary form and is not intended as a complete explanation of your rights. For full and complete information, you are directed to review carefully the Notices.

About The Settlement

What is this lawsuit about?

The Named Plaintiffs, suing individually and on behalf of the Class and Plan (the “Plaintiffs”), allege that Defendants breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA by including investment options in the Plan that are affiliated with John Hancock, failing to adequately monitor the fees and performance of those funds, and failing to adequately monitor recordkeeping fees for Class Members. A more complete description of what Plaintiffs allege is in the First Amended Complaint, which is available HERE.

Defendants deny all claims of wrongdoing or liability against them and assert that they have always acted prudently and in the best interests of Plan participants and beneficiaries. Defendants also believe the Plan is very well managed, its funds are of a high quality, and it provides a generous benefit, including providing matching contributions and waiving most investment advisory fees. Defendants assert that the Plan has not caused any injury or damage. John Hancock is settling the Action solely to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and disruption of litigation, without admitting the allegations of breach and damage contained in the First Amended Complaint.

Why is there a Settlement?

The Named Plaintiffs filed this Action on February 27, 2020. Defendants moved to dismiss the Action in June 2020, and the Court denied that motion in July 2020. The Parties have also engaged in significant discovery. Instead of continuing Plaintiffs’ case against the Defendants, both sides agreed to a Settlement. That way, both sides avoided the cost and risk of additional court proceedings, and the affected Class Members will get substantial benefits that they would not have received if the Named Plaintiffs had litigated the remaining issues and lost, or had lost on appeal. The Named Plaintiffs and their attorneys believe the Settlement is in the best interests of the Class Members. Nothing in the Settlement Agreement is an admission or concession on Defendants’ part of any fault, liability or damages whatsoever, but has been entered into to avoid the uncertainty, expense, and burden of additional litigation.

How do I know if I am in the Settlement Class?

The Court decided that everyone who fits this description is a member of the Class: All participants and beneficiaries of The Investment-Incentive Plan for John Hancock Employees at any time between February 27, 2014 and June 2, 2021, excluding any members of the John Hancock US Benefits Committee or the John Hancock US Investment Subcommittee. If you meet the definition above, you are a member of the Class.

What does the Settlement provide?

John Hancock has agreed to pay $14,000,000 into a Qualified Settlement Fund to resolve the claims of Class Members. The Net Settlement Amount (after deduction of any Court-approved expenses associated with administering the Settlement, Attorneys’ Fees and Costs, and Service Awards to Named Plaintiffs) will be allocated to Class Members according to the Plan of Allocation set forth in the Settlement Agreement. Under the Plan of Allocation, monies will be distributed to Participant Class Members and Former Participant Class Members pro rata based on their account balances for the period of February 27, 2014 to May 31, 2021.

In addition, the Settlement provides that prospectively: (1) Defendants will retain an independent third-party investment consultant to provide ongoing monitoring and review of the investment options in the Plan’s investment lineup for at least five years from the Settlement Effective Date; (2) Defendants will develop and approve an Investment Policy Statement for the Plan; and, (3) at or before the expiration of the Plan’s current recordkeeping contract, Defendants will utilize the services of an independent consultant to assist with negotiating the next recordkeeping agreement and issuing a request for information for recordkeeping services.

All Class Members and anyone claiming through them will fully release the Plan as well as Defendants, Individual Benefits Committee Members, Individual Investment Subcommittee Members, and the Released Parties from Plaintiffs’ Released Claims. The Released Parties include, but are not limited to, Defendant’s past, present, and future parent corporation(s), subsidiaries, divisions, joint ventures, predecessors, successors, successors-in-interest, and assigns, and any individual, partnership, corporation, or any other form of entity or organization that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with any of the foregoing. The Plaintiffs’ Released Claims include, but are not limited to, all claims that were asserted in the Action or could have been asserted in the Action based on any of the allegations, acts, omissions, purported conflicts, representations, misrepresentations, facts, events, matters, transactions, or occurrences asserted in the Action, whether or not pleaded in the Complaints. The Plaintiffs’ Released Claims also include those that relate to the direction to calculate, the calculation of, and/or the method or manner of allocation of the Net Settlement Fund pursuant to the Plan of Allocation and/or that relate to the approval by the Independent Fiduciary of the Settlement Agreement, unless brought against the Independent Fiduciary alone.

This is only a summary of the Released Parties and Plaintiffs’ Released Claims, and is not a binding description of either. The governing releases are found within the Settlement Agreement. Generally, the release means that Class Members will not have the right to sue the Plan, Defendants, or related parties for conduct during the Class Period arising out of or relating to the allegations in the lawsuit. The entire Settlement Agreement is available here.

How do I get benefits?

Class Members do not have to submit claim forms in order to receive settlement benefits. The benefits of the Settlement will be distributed automatically once the Court approves the Settlement.

Former Participant Class Members who would prefer to receive their settlement payment through a rollover to a qualified retirement account must complete, sign, and mail a Former Participant Rollover Form by September 15, 2021. Former Participant Class Members who fail to complete, sign, and mail their Former Participant Rollover Form will receive their Settlement distribution by check.

When will I receive my payment?

The Settlement Administrator will effect a rollover of the pro rata share of the $14,000,000.00 to Former Participant Class Members (or Beneficiaries or Alternate Payees of such participants) who timely submit a Former Participant Rollover Form to their qualified retirement account selected in that Form within sixty (60) days after the Settlement has received final approval and becomes effective. A check will be issued within the same 60-day period to Former Participant Class Members (or Beneficiaries or Alternate Payees of such participants) who do not submit a Former Participant Rollover Form.

All checks will expire and become void 120 days after they are issued, if they have not been cashed.

These payments may have certain tax consequences; you should consult your tax advisor.

There will be no payments under the Settlement if the Settlement Agreement is terminated.

Who represents the Settlement Class?

For purposes of the Settlement, the Court has appointed lawyers from the law firm of Nichols Kaster, PLLP and Block & Leviton LLP as Class Counsel. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense. In addition, the Court appointed Named Plaintiffs Jennifer Baker and Jean Greenberg to serve as the Class representatives. They are also Class Members.

Subject to approval by the Court, Class Counsel has proposed that up to $10,000 may be paid to each of the Named Plaintiffs as the Class representatives in recognition of the time and effort they expended on behalf of the Class. The Court will determine the proper amount of any award to the Named Plaintiffs. The Court may award less than that amount.

How do I get out of the Settlement?

If the Court approves the Settlement, you will be bound by it and will receive whatever benefits you are entitled to under its terms. You cannot exclude yourself from the Settlement, but you may notify the Court of your objection to the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, it will do so under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1), which does not permit Class Members to opt out of the Class.

How do I object to the Settlement?

You can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it. If you object, you must give the reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement. The Court will consider your views. Your objection to the Settlement must be postmarked no later than September 8, 2021 and must be sent to the attorneys for the Parties.

When and where will the Court hold a hearing on the fairness of the Settlement?

A Fairness Hearing has been set for September 29, 2021 at 2:00 p.m., before The Honorable Richard G. Stearns at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02210 in Courtroom 21. At the hearing, the Court will hear any comments, objections, and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed Settlement, including the amount requested by Class Counsel for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs, Administrative Expenses, and the Service Awards to the Named Plaintiffs as the Class representatives. You do not need to attend this hearing. You also do not need to attend to have an objection considered by the Court.

Note: The date and time of the Fairness Hearing are subject to change by Court Order, but any changes will be posted on this website.