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Rising Stars

ERISA litigation in United States

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The ERISA litigation practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP remains at the forefront of 403(b) university plan litigation, with Philadelphia-based co-head Brian Ortelere and Chicago-based co-head Deborah Davidson representing premier clients including acting for the Washington University in St. Louis in headline proceedings regarding underperforming investment options. In another highlight, Philadelphia-based co-head Jeremy Blumenfeld, Chicago-based Christopher Boran and Sari Alamuddin obtained favorable results for professional services clients in 401(k) class action litigation regarding poorly performing ERISA investment options and bookkeeping; the practice also successfully defended global leaders in the aerospace industry in stock-drop litigation filed by 401(k) plan participants. As a key partner in the New York office, Melissa Hill handles fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction disputes for high-profile clients, and Grace Speights is a noteworthy name in Washington DC. Clients in the financial services, transport, manufacturing, insurance and non-profit sectors also instruct the team.

Practice head(s):

Grace Speights; Jeremy Blumenfeld; Deborah Davidson; Brian Ortelere

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Boran; Sari Alamuddin; Melissa Hill

Testimonials

‘This practice provides excellent communication.’

‘They are one of the best teams in this area of law. Additionally, they are very responsive and provide excellent communication.’

Key clients

Cigna Corporation

Boeing

University of Miami

Jeffrey Slocum & Associates

Johns Hopkins University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wawa

State of Hawaii

OSF Healthcare System

University of Pennsylvania

Work highlights

  • Achieved a favorable settlement on behalf of Jeffrey Slocum & Associates in a long-running ERISA class action regarding breach of fiduciary duties claims.
  • Defending Washington University in St. Louis in a putative ERISA class action alleging that fiduciaries of its 403(b) retirement plan breached duties by allowing participants to pay excessive fees and select certain “underperforming” investment options.
  • Obtained the dismissal of an ERISA 401(k) employer stock-drop class action filed against Boeing and its Employee Benefit Plans Committee, its Employee Benefit Investment Committee, and Boeing executives.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Led from Washington DC by Brian Boyle, O'Melveny & Myers LLP’s ERISA litigation practice is one of the most active firms for defending globally recognised entities in the entertainment, financial services, education, aerospace and investment management industries in ERISA class actions. The deep bench includes Shannon Barrett, Catalina Vergara and Meaghan VerGow, who routinely handle 401(k) fiduciary breach litigation involving multibillion-dollar plans. As well as handling a slew of disputes involving excessive fee and underperforming investment options, the team is defending clients in high-stakes disputes concerning exclusive proprietary investment strategies and prohibited self-dealing transactions. Noted health plan litigation expert Gregory Jacob recently left the firm to serve as Counsel to the US Vice President, however Boyle and VerGow also have extensive knowledge in the space, and are currently representing world-leading healthcare company UnitedHealth Group in a putative class action alleging improperly denied facility fee payments.

Practice head(s):

Brian Boyle

Other key lawyers:

Shannon Barrett; Catalina Vergara; Meaghan VerGow

Key clients

American Airlines

Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting

BlackRock

Fidelity Management Trust Company

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Morgan Stanley

Providence Health & Sciences

T. Rowe Price

Trader Joe’s Company

UnitedHealth Group

Work highlights

  • Representing BlackRock and related entities in Baird v. BlackRock Institutional Trust Co; a class action challenging the offering of BlackRock-affiliated mutual funds and collective trusts in BlackRock’s 401(k) plan, as well as BlackRock’s compensation for securities lending services to its collective trust clients more generally.
  • Defending T. Rowe Price in a class action lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleges that defendants breached ERISA fiduciary duties by offering an exclusive menu of proprietary T. Rowe Price funds in the company’s 401(k) plan, despite the funds’ allegedly high costs and poor performance.
  • Defended Trader Joe’s Company in a putative ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duties due to excessive fees incurred by its employee retirement plan.

Goodwin

The ERISA litigation team at Goodwin is one of the foremost names in excessive fee litigation, having obtained landmark and precedent-setting judgements for investment management and life insurance clients, with proceedings led by practice head James Fleckner. In novel litigation concerning fiduciary breach allegations, Alison Douglass and counsel Jack Cleary are representing numerous financial services clients in disputes concerning the improper use of participant data. Further ongoing cases involve the use of active funds over collective investment trusts. The group also handles employer stock-drop litigation including proprietary challenges into company 401(k) stock, recently acting for a number of multinational conglomerates. All noted practitioners are based in Boston.

Practice head(s):

James Fleckner

Other key lawyers:

Alison Douglass; Jack Cleary

Testimonials

‘Goodwin is repeatedly hired by the largest and most sophisticated financial institutions to handle their major class action ERISA litigation. The trust that clients put in the Goodwin team has been well earned through the generation of many successful outcomes. As a team, they get immersed in the case facts sufficiently early to make sure that they have time to present the best possible defense for their clients.’

‘Jamie Fleckner is one of the best ERISA litigators in the country. He leads the Goodwin practice, and top financial institutions seek him out to represent them in their most important ERISA litigation. He is a creative and adept litigator, quick on his feet, excellent in the courtroom, and able to explain complex subjects in an easy-to-understand fashion.’

‘Alison Douglass is an excellent litigator with impressive skills.’

Key clients

John Hancock Life Insurance Company

IQVIA, Inc.

FirstGroup America, Inc.

Putnam Investments, LLC

Newport Trust Company

Stadion Money Management

BTG International

State Street Bank and Trust Company

MFS Investment Management

Work highlights

  • Representing John Hancock Life Insurance Company (USA), one of the nation’s largest life insurance companies, in a putative class action pending in the District of Massachusetts.
  • Representing IQVIA in the Middle District of North Carolina in litigation concerning excessive fees and underperforming investments.
  • Representing FirstGroup America in the Southern District of Ohio relating to its decision to transfer $250m of its 401(k) plan assets – allegedly 90% of total plan assets – entirely to investment options offered by its co-defendant, Aon Hewitt. The plaintiffs allege that Aon Hewitt’s funds were newly-offered and untested, ultimately resulting in tens of millions of dollars in losses to plan participants.

Groom Law Group, Chartered

Top benefits boutique Groom Law Group, Chartered fields a comprehensive Washington DC-based ERISA litigation bench led by Lars Golumbic. The team, which also includes renowned litigator Michael Prame, represents plan sponsors and fiduciaries in all fiduciary breach proceedings including excessive fee and prohibited transaction claims. Sarah Adams recently obtained successful results in church plan and retiree health plan litigation on behalf of a portfolio of service providers. Mark Nielsen is currently defending leading life insurer Aetna in numerous complex class action cases; claims concern the denial of benefits under clinical policies for experimental treatments.

Practice head(s):

Lars Golumbic

Other key lawyers:

Michael Prame; Sarah Adams; Mark Nielsen

Testimonials

‘Groom has one of the top ERISA litigation team in the country, specifically as it relates to ESOP litigation. No one has the same depth and breadth of ERISA experience.’

‘Lars Golumbic is the best ESOP litigator in the country.’

Key clients

Principal Financial Group

Konica Minolta

Horizon Actuarial Services

New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund

The Segal Group

Aetna Life Insurance Co.

The Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Stout Risius Ross

Horizon Bank d/b/a Horizon Trust & Investment Management

Wilmington Trust

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Principal Financial Group in a novel case challenging the underlying fees in a series of target date funds, structured as collective investment trusts.
  • Defending Konica Minolta against breaches of fiduciary duty allegations in connection with the Konica Minolta 401(k) Plan, which has over $800m in assets.
  • Representing Horizon Actuarial Services in a lawsuit alleging that it set overly aggressive investment return assumptions for a multiemployer pension plan, which allegedly led to tens of millions of dollars in investment lawsuits.

Mayer Brown

In recent work, Mayer Brown’s ERISA litigation practice obtained a raft of favorable results for 403(b) university plan sponsors — including Cornell University, Georgetown University and George Washington University — in high-profile breach of fiduciary litigation; group co-heads Nancy Ross and Brian Netter (sitting in Chicago and Washington DC respectively) led the proceedings. Chicago-based Richard Nowak and associate Samuel Myler add considerable bench strength to the range of disputes handled, including acting in excessive fee, prohibited transaction and all other 401(k) fiduciary breach claims. The team represented market-leading aerospace defense contractor Northrop Grunman Corporation in a dispute regarding its right to recoup benefits overpayments, and also defended AT&T in a challenge to its use of actuarial assumptions.

Practice head(s):

Nancy Ross; Brian Netter

Other key lawyers:

Richard Nowak; Samuel Myler; Michelle Webster

Testimonials

‘The focus on ERISA and depth of experience of the team was very beneficial. Also, despite four years of litigation, we maintained the same team assigned to our case and developed strong working relationships with each member from the most junior to the senior partner. The level of comfort and trust developed accordingly.’

‘Our team consisted of Nancy Ross, Brian Netter, Sam Myler and Michelle Webster, and each brought a unique skill set to the table. Nancy and Sam compliment each other on insightful and methodical analysis of issues peculiar to ERISA cases. Brian is superb on procedural and evidentiary issues, as well as being both an excellent writer and willing recipient of client input during the drafting process. Michelle brings organizational skills and diligent follow-up on outstanding issues to ensure a comprehensive effort.’

‘They know this stuff cold – among the best in the industry. Great to work with.’

‘Brian Netter is outstanding – takes a practical, efficient approach that is highly effective.’

Key clients

HSBC

AT&T

Shell Oil Company

Northrop Grumman Corporation

Nestlé U.S.A., Inc.

Tenneco

Cornell University

George Washington University

Duke Energy Corporation

Froedtert Health

Work highlights

  • Secured a win for Northrop Grumman and the administrative committee of its pension benefit plan in a nationwide class action challenging the reduction in the plaintiffs’ pension benefits.
  • Secured a victory for AT&T in the US District Court for the Northern District of California which dismissed with prejudice a putative class action ERISA lawsuit challenging the company’s defined benefit plan’s use of actuarial assumptions.
  • Obtained a dismissal of an ERISA class action against George Washington University in 403(b) plan fiduciary breach litigation.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Recent trial wins for McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s ERISA litigation team saw New York-based Andrew Liazos securing dismissals for healthcare clients in excessive fee litigation; Chicago-based co-head Ted Becker successfully handling complex ESOP litigation; and Miami-based co-head J. Christian Nemeth handling underperforming investment disputes for biotechnology clients. Practice co-head Brian Cousin’s New York-based team saw considerable growth with several partner hires from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, including Joshua Simon, who represents healthcare insurers in putative ERISA class actions. Cousin also secured significant wins against the DOL for clients in the non-profit sector.

Practice head(s):

Ted Becker; Brian Cousin; J. Christian Nemeth

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Liazos; Joshua Simon

Key clients

Banner Health

Cigna Corporation

DeMoulas Supermarkets

Genentech Inc.

KPC Healthcare Holdings, Inc.

Liberty Mutual

Life Insurance Company of the Southwest

Lubbock National Bank

Reliance Trust Company

Schneider Electric

Target Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented Banner Health in a dispute brought by claimants alleging that Banner mismanaged the company’s employee retirement plan by allowing the plan to pay excessive administrative fees, and by failing to properly monitor plan fiduciaries.
  • Represented Target Corporation in a putative class action in Florida alleging that Target’s notices relating to continuing health care coverage failed to comply with the requirements of ERISA and COBRA.
  • Secured a victory for Chimes International against a 10-count lawsuit brought by the DOL alleging that Chimes and its former executives breached their fiduciary duty in the company’s health and welfare plan, and engaged in prohibited transactions, resulting in the plan paying excessive fees for services.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP’s ERISA litigation practice is a go-to name for a number of complex litigation proceedings, most notably for disputes involving billion-dollar Taft Hartley multiemployer funds. Recent representative matters saw co-head Myron Rumeld defending household-name entertainment, logistics and food and drink companies in breach of fiduciary duty and withdrawal liability claims. Stock drop litigation and disputes concerning underperforming 401(k) investments and prohibited transactions are also fields of focus: co-head Russell Hirschhorn is representing major companies in the financial services, insurance, technology and IT sectors in high-value proceedings, and also handles DOL investigations. The practice is based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Myron Rumeld; Russell Hirschhorn

Testimonials

‘Proskauer has depth in the ERISA litigation area – attorneys work well together and you get the benefit of shared experience.’

‘Myron Rumeld has been our primary litigation contact. We worry about our legal exposures in litigation and are very detail focused. Myron is remarkable and unmatched in making our problems his problems. He is just as concerned as we are and frequently steps ahead of us in his thinking/analysis- which for us is very unusual. Very dependable, bright and committed.’

‘Those on the ERISA team are quite knowledgeable and very astute at assessing situations and developing strategies.’

Key clients

Wells Fargo & Company

National Basketball Association

Neuberger Berman Group LLC

Transervice Logistics Inc. and Zenith Logistics, Inc.

American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund

Barnabas Health, Inc.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

The Renco Group

Robert D. Goldfarb

Intel Corporation

Princeton University

Employer Trustees of the Division 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union – NY Employees Pension Fund

Building Services 32BJ Pension Fund

RELX

American Benefits Council

Work highlights

  • Secured a victory in the Eighth Circuit on behalf of Wells Fargo & Company and other defendants in a putative class action brought by hundreds of thousands of individuals alleging breaches of fiduciary duty.
  • Obtained a dismissal for the NBA in putative class action claims brought by a former Seattle Supersonics player who alleged that the NBA Players’ Pension Plan short-changed his pension benefit.
  • Representing Neuberger Berman, an investment manager with $246bn in assets under management, and others in a class action alleging that defendants offered a Neuberger-managed product in the company’s 401(k) plan that allegedly underperformed and charged excessive fees.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

With substantial teams in San Francisco and Chicago (led by Kathleen Cahill Slaught and Ian Morrison respectively), Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s ERISA litigation practice is retained by a diverse client portfolio to handle the full range of disputes and pre-litigation risk management issues. Chicago-based Mark Casciari regularly represents Taft Hartley employers in withdrawal liability litigation, while San Francisco-based Ward Kallstrom represents ERISA medical plans in defense actions and claw-back prosecutions. In the 401(k) space, the team successfully represented a range of financial services, retail and energy sector employers in ERISA class action suits alleging fiduciary breaches and prohibited transactions involving proprietary investment options.

Practice head(s):

Kathleen Cahill Slaught; Ian Morrison

Other key lawyers:

Mark Casciari; Ward Kallstrom

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Paul Ondrasik leads the Washington DC-based ERISA litigation practice at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which is engaged by a diverse portfolio of multinational corporates, insurance companies, plan fiduciaries, investment advisers and healthcare service providers, plus a spate of new energy clients. Eric Serron has substantial experience in representing ESOP-owned companies in breach of fiduciary litigation, while Sara Pikofsky is a go-to practitioner for litigation concerning prohibited transactions, excessive fees and withdrawal liabilities; she recently acted for 401(k) plan administrators in the energy, healthcare, food and drink and professional services sectors. The team is also highly experienced in representing clients’ interests in DOL investigations into ERISA plan management.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ondrasik

Other key lawyers:

Eric Serron; Sara Pikofsky

Testimonials

‘Steptoe & Johnson is one of the most qualified ERISA firms I have dealt with during my career. The attorneys have unparalleled ERISA experience and an excellent record of obtaining favorable results in cases it handles.’

‘While all of the attorneys at the firm I have dealt with are extremely knowledgeable, skilled and easy to work with, partners Paul Ondrasik and Eric Serron deserve special commendation.’

Key clients

Express Scripts

Allina Health System

Republic Services

Macy’s

Teamsters Joint Council No 83 of Virginia Pension

United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds

Salesforce

Trust Management Services

Eversource

ISCO

Employee Administration Board of Kraft Heinz

Work highlights

  • Representing alleged fiduciaries of the Salesforce 401(k) plan in a putative class action alleging that defendants violated ERISA fiduciary duties by maintaining various plan investment options that charged excessive fees and underperformed other available options in the market.
  • Representing Eversource Energy and the alleged fiduciaries of the company’s 401(k) plan in a consolidated putative ERISA class action filed in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut.
  • Defending ISCO Industries in a putative ERISA class action filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s ERISA litigation practice entered the higher end of the market owing to the recruitment of, among others, Craig MartinAmanda Amert and counsel Michael Graham (previously of Jenner & Block LLP) to the Chicago office, bringing with them a book of clients in the insurance, asset management, financial services and higher education sectors. Led by Amert, who chairs the firm’s ERISA litigation group, the team obtained successes in litigation concerning ESOPs, 403(b) plans and 401(k) fiduciary breaches. The group also handles putative class actions regarding the use of target-date funds and DOL investigations.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Amert

Other key lawyers:

Craig Martin; Michael Graham

Testimonials

‘This team has great depth of experience in ERISA litigation and has ably represented clients in all stages of litigation, with a strong record of successfully defending clients in district court actions and on appeal.’

‘Craig Martin’s greatest strength is his personal commitment to the highest level of client service. Craig is always available and responsive, and committed to providing his clients with the highest quality service possible.’

‘Excellent communication with a diverse group of individual office and director defendants.’

‘Craig Martin: strong team leader, good communications, realistic and helpful analysis.’

‘Michael Graham: Strong ERISA analysis. Good briefing and fact organization.’

Key clients

Northwestern University

Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting

Alight Financial Advisors

Alight Solutions

CenturyLink

Prudential Insurance Company of America

Former Directors and Officers of Appvion Corporation

Olin Corporation

Ruane, Cunnif & Goldfarb Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Northwestern University in a significant victory before the Seventh Circuit, which refused to reconsider a panel decision affirming the dismissal of a proposed ERISA class action.
  • Won a summary judgement for CenturyLink against allegations by investors in a 401(k) plan accusing the client of mismanaging the $5bn retirement plan.
  • Successfully obtained a dismissal of a suit brought against a group of former officers and directors of Appvion Corporation alleging artificial inflation of company stock value invested into with retirement funds through improper business forecasts, stock valuations and calculations.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP recently benefited from the lateral hires of Atlanta-based practice head Todd Wozniak and Lindsey Camp in West Palm Beach, both from Greenberg Traurig LLP. ESOP litigation is a key strength for the group, alongside COBRA class actions and withdrawal liability litigation. The new recruits combine their knowledge with the health and welfare benefits expertise of Fort Lauderdale-based Sandra Heller and Dallas-based Eliot Burriss (the latter is another recent hire from McDermott Will & Emery LLP), who represent healthcare and managed care companies in ERISA defense litigation. The team also handles DOL enforcement actions.

Practice head(s):

Todd Wozniak

Other key lawyers:

Lindsey Camp; Sandra Heller; Eliot Burriss

Key clients

Stiefel Laboratories

RVR Inc.

Choate Construction Company

Kruse Western

GreatBanc Trust Company

American Society of Appraisers

Work highlights

  • Representing Stiefel Laboratories, its board of directors and several officers against multiple lawsuits claiming that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA, breached corporate fiduciary duties, and engaged in federal and state securities fraud.
  • Represented the Choate Construction Company, its board of directors, and its ESOP Committee in an ERISA putative class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty and engaging in a prohibited transaction arising out of an ESOP transaction.
  • Defending RVR in an action by the DOL alleging failure to monitor a trustee and by enabling and otherwise participating in the trustee’s breach of ERISA fiduciary duties.

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Howard Shapiro and René Thorne lead Jackson Lewis P.C.’s ERISA litigation practice out of New Orleans. Clients range from 401(k) and defined benefit sponsors and administrators to health plan service providers and engage the team on all manner of breach of fiduciary litigation including excessive fee and prohibited transaction allegations. The team also acts for clients in complex litigation regarding the management of ESOPs. Charles Seemann and Stacey Cerrone are noted for defending clients in health plan litigation, including coverage disputes under COBRA.

Practice head(s):

Howard Shapiro; René Thorne

Other key lawyers:

Charles Seeman; Stacey Cerrone

Key clients

Sysco Corporation

Charles Schwab

Lockheed Martin

HMSHost International

CHS/Community Health Systems, Inc.

Princeton University

USAA

Pfizer Inc.

Estée Lauder

Biogen

Work highlights

  • Representing Segerdahl Corporation as defendants in a breach of fiduciary duty class action asserting that the defendants manipulated the sale of company stock owned by an ESOP to benefit themselves, thereby reducing the amount that the ESOP received from the acquisition of the company by an outside investor in 2016.
  • Obtained a precedent-setting opinion for Charles Schwab holding that a 401(k) plan fee class action ERISA case is subject to arbitration.
  • Defending MGM Resorts International in a class action 401(k) fee litigation, filed in September 2020, alleging high plan expense ratios, including recordkeeper fees.

Jenner & Block LLP

Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago-based ERISA litigation team is currently engaged in a number of novel class actions; practice head Joseph Torres is defending PPG Industries in claims of ERISA violations stemming from liability transfers of life insurance benefits. Clients in the energy and healthcare sectors also recently engaged the team to successfully defend retiree and long-term disability medical benefits claims. The group also handles the full suite of breach of fiduciary duty claims — including for multiemployer benefit plans — as well as anti-cutback claims.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Torres

Key clients

Signode Industrial Group

PPG Industries, Inc.

CONSOL Energy Inc.

Abbott Laboratories

State Farm

Work highlights

  • Defending PPG against claims from a purported class that PPG violated ERISA by transferring the liabilities for certain retiree life insurance benefits to another company in a multibillion-dollar corporate divestiture that closed in 2013.
  • Representing State Farm in a putative class action claiming violations of the Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act.
  • Defending CONSOL Energy against claims for alleged lifetime retiree medical benefits on behalf of a purported class of several thousand retirees.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP is a leading name for ERISA litigation in the Southeast, thanks to practice head David Tetrick’s Atlanta-based office. Fielding Darren Shuler (also based in Atlanta) and Washington DC-based Bobby Burchfield, the practice handles all fiduciary breach disputes involving excessive fees, proprietary mutual funds and the administration of health and welfare benefits plans. High-profile client Coca-Cola recent engaged the team on a dispute concerning benefits entitlements under a top-hat plan. The group also has strength in litigation concerning multiemployer withdrawal liability claims.

Practice head(s):

David Tetrick

Other key lawyers:

Darren Shuler; Bobby Burchfield

Testimonials

‘King & Spalding has substantial knowledge concerning underlying ERISA issues and is very skilled in the formulation of legal strategy. In addition, the firm is extremely responsive to our concerns and is always willing to include us in strategy sessions.’

‘The attorneys I work with at King & Spalding are easy to work with and always available for consultation. While this observation applies to all the attorneys on the King & Spalding teams I have worked with, special commendations should go to partner David Tetrick.’

Key clients

Bass Pro Shops

The Coca-Cola Company

Cumulus Media Inc.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Kemira Chemicals, Inc.

Mueller Water Products

Peabody Energy Corporation

Spotted Hawk Development

SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Representing Home Depot in a putative ERISA class action involving its defined benefit plan, The Home Depot FutureBuilder.
  • Representing Cumulus Media in a case testing whether a contractual limitations period contained in an ERISA plan applies to breach of fiduciary duty claims.
  • Defending The Coca‑Cola Company in a dispute involving an ERISA top-hat plan that is maintained for a select group of management or highly compensated employees.

Miller & Chevalier Chartered

An impressive roster of health insurance clients engages Miller & Chevalier Chartered’s ERISA and employee benefits litigation partners on significant proceedings. Practice head Anthony Shelley is noted for his expert knowledge of the Affordable Care Act including litigation pertaining to employer mandates, while Theresa Gee has expertise in handling breach of fiduciary and prohibited transaction litigation for corporate clients, supported by counsels Elizabeth Jonas and Dawn Murphy-Johnson. The team also handles pension plan litigation against the PBGC, specifically in regards to plan terminations. All stated lawyers are based in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Shelley

Other key lawyers:

Theresa Gee; Elizabeth Jonas; Dawn Murphy-Johnson

Key clients

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company

America’s Health Insurance Plans

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

The ERISA Industry Committee

Delphi Salaried Retiree Association

Delta Pilot’s Pension Preservation Organization

Special Agent Mutual Benefit Association

American Benefits Council

Estate of Phyllis Wyeth

Work highlights

  • Representing the ERISA Industry Committee in a challenge to an ordinance set by the city of Seattle requiring large hotels to pay workers additional compensation unless they are provided health benefits of a certain value, arguing that the ordinance is preempted by ERISA.
  • Representing Delta Pilots’ Pension Preservation Organization, which is challenging under ERISA the way in which the PBGC has allocated roughly $3bn in plan assets and recoveries in connection with Delta’s pension plan for pilots, which terminated in 2006.
  • Representing the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association in a challenge to the PBGC’s termination of Delphi’s ERISA pension plan for its salaried employees.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

The ERISA litigation experts at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP are regularly engaged by household-name corporate sponsors and fiduciaries to defend clients in high-value litigation. Practice head Lewis Clayton has secured significant wins for insurance and financial services clients in multibillion-dollar stock-drop claims and breach of fiduciary actions alleging excessive fees of mutual funds and underperforming investments. The group also handles actuarial malpractice disputes and healthcare benefits disputes. The team is based in the New York office.

Practice head(s):

Lewis Clayton

Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox LLP’s Washington DC-based ERISA litigation practice stands out for its expertise in health benefits disputes, particularly managed care litigation, with practice head Caroline English regularly representing high-profile clients in the insurance and life sciences sectors in a high volume of proceedings. The practice is also experienced in complex disputes at the intersection of employee benefits and bankruptcy issues. English and Alison Anderson represent distressed companies and municipalities as well as retiree groups.

Practice head(s):

Caroline English

Other key lawyers:

Alison Anderson

Key clients

Suffolk School Employees Health Plan and Trustees

Work highlights

  • Represened the Suffolk School Employees Health Plan and its trustees in litigation brought by the Sayville School District in state court in New York alleging fiduciary and contract breaches relating to the alleged failure to pay certain funds.
  • Representing the the plaintiff/counter-claim defendant in Wright v Elton Corporation, who is an alleged plan administrator and fiduciary for a ERISA-governed pension plan. The case alleges that the plan was not operated in compliance with ERISA, and that the fiduciaries breached their duties.

Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox LLP’s Washington D.C.-based ERISA litigation practice stands out for its expertise in health benefits disputes, particularly managed care litigation, with practice head Caroline English regularly representing high-profile clients in the insurance and life sciences sectors in a high volume of proceedings. The practice is also an expert in complex disputes at the intersection of employee benefits and bankruptcy; English and Alison Anderson represent distressed companies and municipalities as well as retiree groups.

Baker McKenzie LLP

James Baker leads Baker McKenzie LLP's ERISA litigation practice out of the Chicago office. Typical mandates include handling ERISA fiduciary litigation for insurance companies, acting in lawsuits involving the denial of severance pay, healthcare plan disputes and defending defined benefit plan sponsors in withdrawal liability litigation.

Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP handles ERISA litigation cases involving annuity contracts, breach of fiduciary claims, prohibited transactions and actions by the DOL. The practice is situated in Washington DC. Jeffrey Huvelle is the primary contact.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s ERISA litigation practice co-heads are situated across the country, with James Bourdreau in Philadelphia, Naomi Beer in Denver, James Nelson in Sacramento and Jeffrey Mamorsky in New York. The group has notable strength in excessive fee litigation, and is regularly engaged by a diverse set of high-profile clients in single-plaintiff benefits disputes concerning disability benefits under ERISA. The firm’s sophisticated Fiduciary Audit Operational Review tool provides extensive risk management analysis support and advice on corrective measures. Former co-head Todd Wozniak departed for Holland & Knight LLP.

Practice head(s):

James Boudreau; Naomi Beer; James Nelson; Jeffrey Mamorsky

Key clients

Invesco Real Estate

Jones Day

Jones Day's Washington DC-based ERISA litigation practice is a preferred choice for multiemployer fund plan sponsors spanning the telecoms, retail, transport and food and drink sectors. Key partners Evan Miller and Miguel Eaton defend clients in withdrawal liability litigation of Taft-Hartley plans, and recently secured a number of precedent-setting wins. The group also focuses on retiree health plan litigation, particularly in the context of multibillion-dollar bankruptcy proceedings. Kevin Noble is noted for his pension de-risking expertise.

Other key lawyers:

Evan Miller; Miguel Eaton; Kevin Noble

Key clients

C&S Wholesale Grocers

United Natural Foods Inc.

General Mills, inc.

Motorola Solutions, Inc.

Flowers Foods, Inc.

CXS Transportation Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented C&S Wholesale Grocers in obtaining summary judgement against a $64m withdrawal liability claim brought by the NY State Teamsters Pension Fund.
  • Represented General Mills in connection with a seven-year withdrawal liability dispute with the Screen Actors Guild – Producers Pension Plan for Motion Picture Actors.
  • Defended Flower Foods in a case alleging that the company failed to properly pay benefits with respect to medical treatment provided to the spouse of a company employee.

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP is highly active in the field of multi-employer litigation under the leadership of New York-based practice heads Ronald Richman and Mark Brossman. The pair recently handled withdrawal liability litigation for a diverse range of pension funds before the bankruptcy court and acted in arbitration proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Mark Brossman; Ronald Richman

Key clients

Newspaper and Mail-Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund in a $26m withdrawal liability dispute against The New York Times and the New York Daily News.
  • Representing a former investment manager for a profit sharing, single employer pension plan against alleged class actions brought by private plaintiffs and the DOL.

Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin LLP's ERISA litigation practice has expertise in stock-drop litigation, breach of fiduciary class actions, excessive fee claims, and health and welfare plan litigation. The practice is based in Chicago.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP defends plan sponsors in defined contribution fiduciary breach litigation, health plan litigation and DOL enforcement actions. New York-based Jeffrey Klein and Nicholas Pappas are the main contacts.