Mutual fund companies providing 401(k)'s or other types of defined contribution plans may be in for a rash of lawsuits foiled by unhappy 401(k) investors, say industry executives and consultants.

Such lawsuits may not appear in any great numbers until 2001 when the bulk of baby boomer investors who have relied on defined contribution retirement plans rather than the traditional defined benefit pension plans, begin to retire, said Gary Blank, a principal with William M. Mercer of New York. Based in Mercer's San Francisco office, Blank works with major plan sponsors nationwide on structuring retirement plans.

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