A New Jersey federal judge’s dismissal of legal malpractice and breach-of-fiduciary-duty claims against counsel in an ERISA case shows that trustees sued for misfeasance can’t easily pass the buck to their lawyers.

Though he dismissed the claims on procedural grounds, U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano held that even if attorney Gary Carlson knew of prohibited transactions and failed to disclose them, the fund’s trustees “cannot show that Carlson’s conduct — rather than that of the actual wrongdoers — was the proximate cause of any losses they allegedly suffered.”

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