MetLife acquired the rights to a fixed investment option contract with Midco, a trust established to administer a retirement plan for the employees of Midco International, Inc. Midco plan participants received interest each year pursuant to a “declared rate” which would be determined at MetLife’s discretion “from time to time.” Several years later, MetLife sold its 401(k) administration business to Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company in the form of a 100% indemnity reinsurance transaction, whereby the Midco assets backing the Midco contract were transferred to Great-West, and MetLife delegated responsibility for setting the declared rate to Great-West. MetLife informed Midco that its business had been transferred to Great-West and that Great-West would provide “recordkeeping and administrative services” going forward, but did not disclose that Midco’s assets would be transferred to Great-West and that Great-West would be delegated the responsibility to set the declared rate. The declared rate selected by Great-West in the subsequent years continually decreased, falling from 6.7% in 2007 to 1.2% in 2016. Later, upon learning that Midco’s assets were no longer with MetLife, Midco filed suit, alleging that Great-West’s control over the declared rate amounted to a breach of MetLife’s obligation to set the rate in good faith.
MetLife moved for summary judgment, which the court granted. The Court found significant that Midco provided no evidence that the parties expected that MetLife would not transfer assets or rate-setting responsibility to a third party. The court rejected Midco’s claim that MetLife’s lack of full disclosure about Great-West’s role in investment decisions violated the contract, stating, “as long as MetLife exercised its discretion in good faith, its failure to disclose how it exercised its discretion is not a breach of the implied covenant.” The Court also noted that Midco failed to provide evidence of industry custom to “show that delegating assets and responsibility to a third party without policyholder consent was an unusual act for an insurance company….” , Case No. 14-9470 (USDC N.D. Ill. July 5, 2017).