ERISA litigation in United States

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s ERISA litigation practice has carved out a reputation as a leader in the highly publicized field of 403(b) university plan litigation, with Philadelphia-based practice heads Brian Ortelere and Jeremy Blumenfeld, and Chicago-based Deborah Davidson obtaining favorable rulings for clients such as Washington University, the University in St. Louis and Duke University. Stock-drop litigation is another field of expertise, with the team currently defending class actions against 401(k) plan sponsors in the aerospace and retail sectors. Christopher Boran and Melissa Hill, based in Chicago and New York respectively, regularly represent clients in the financial services, technology and public sectors in ERISA class actions involving breach of fiduciary and excessive fee claims. The team is also acting on unique cases concerning the calculation of mortality rates in the payout of defined benefit plans.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Blumenfeld; Deborah Davidson; Brian Ortelere

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Boran; Melissa Hill

Key clients

Cigna Corporation

City of New York

Honeywell

Jeffrey Slocum & Associates

Johns Hopkins University

FMC Corporation

Wawa

State of Hawaii

OSF Healthcare System

University of Pennsylvania

Work highlights

  • Defending Boeing in stock-drop class action litigation filed against its Employee Benefit Plans Committee, Employee Benefit Investment Committee.
  • Obtained full dismissal of a putative class action filed against Washington University in St. Louis which alleged excessive fees and other breaches of fiduciary duties.
  • Successfully defended New York City Department of Education in withdrawal liability litigation (involving assets of $100m) filed by Division 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union-New York Employees Pension Fund.
  • Represented PepsiCo in an ERISA class action filed by participants of the client’s pension plans alleging a miscalculation of annuity payments.
  • Obtained a motion to compel arbitration for defendant JPMorgan Case, ending a putative class action alleging a failure to disclose mandatory information in the client’s COBRA notices.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

The Washington DC-based ERISA litigation practice at O'Melveny & Myers LLP is a highly active defense counsel for 401(k) fiduciary breach claims against financial institutions, such as Brian Boyle, Shannon Barrett and Meaghan VerGow’s successful representation of Morgan Stanley in litigation concerning its proprietary investment strategies. Other recent matters in this field saw Los Angeles-based Catalina Vergara defending claims of retirement fund mismanagement and the usage of mutual funds in 401(k) plan investment choices, while the team also routinely handles excessive fee litigation. Gregory Jacob has a noteworthy practice in health plan disputes, having recently defended the recovery of overpayments to healthcare service providers.

Practice head(s):

Brian Boyle

Testimonials

I have worked the firm close to a dozen firms in the labor, employment and ERISA areas. There is no other firm that comes close to the superior knowledge, advice & counsel that they provide.

O’Melveny & Meyers has a unique ERISA litigation practice with outstanding, bright lawyers.

Gregory Jacob is a superior lawyer. He represented me personally and also gave advice to my company, which is a 100% employee owned ESOP. He provided superior and knowledgeable guidance, counsel and advice.

Brian Boyle, Greg Jacob, and Meaghan VerGow are absolute stand outs.  The three compliment each other so well, with different demeanors, strengths and experiences. They are creative and highly collaborative, both among themselves and with other firms, when asked. They provide excellent client service.

Key clients

American Airlines

Chevron Corporation

Fidelity Management Trust Company

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Morgan Stanley Providence Health & Sciences

Prudential Insurance Company

T. Rowe Price

The Walt Disney Company

UnitedHealth Group

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Morgan Stanley in a putative class action case challenging the client’s reliance on proprietary investment strategies in its 401(k) plan.
  • Representing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a putative class action filed by plaintiffs alleging a violation of fiduciary duties leading to excessive administrative fees.
  • Obtained a dismissal of a putative class action for the Walt Disney Company which alleged fiduciary breaches in the management of the client’s 401(k) plan.
  • Successfully represented Chevron Corporation in excessive fee litigation concerning prohibited transactions in its 401(k) plan comprising over $19bn of assets.
  • Represented UnitedHealth Group in class action litigation challenging procedures used by the client to recover overpayments to healthcare providers.

Goodwin

Goodwin’s Boston-based ERISA litigation practice is currently engaged in significant class actions for plan sponsors, which concern the usage of proprietary funds in their investment strategies – a rapidly developing trend in ERISA litigation. Typical clients for practice head James Fleckner and Alison Douglass in this space are sourced from the asset management, healthcare and financial services sectors. High-profile insurance entities are counted on the client roster, which retain the team for disputes concerning loan practices and the pay out of lifetime insurance benefits. Fleckner and Jack Cleary are also handling a suite of stock-drop cases, including unique allegations concerning the mismanagement of failed ESOP plans. The team also enjoys a steady stream of mandates involving excessive fee charges and challenges to the denial of retirement health benefits.

Practice head(s):

James Fleckner

Other key lawyers:

Alison Douglass; Jack Cleary

Testimonials

Goodwin’s ERISA litigation team has tremendous depth and experience, both with ERISA and with complex class actions and trials.

Goodwin’s ERISA litigation team is deservedly viewed as one of the best. They have exceptional depth and breadth of experience with exceptional knowledge of the law and litigation strategy.

The stand out here is Alison Douglass- a young partner who is bright, knowledgeable, and a tremendous partner for clients to work with.

Jamie Fleckner is an incredible litigator. He is quick on his feet and is able to explain complex subjects to the court in an easy-to-understand fashion.

Alison Douglass is an excellent litigator.  She thrives at working with the client to develop the strongest possible case.  Her knowledge of the law and understanding of the specifics of a case make her a powerful force.

Jamie Fleckner is the quarterback and MVP- known and respected in the industry, strategic and detail oriented and always available.

Matthew Riffee is timely, detailed, and works well with co-defendant counsel.

Key clients

American Century Investments

FirstGroup America, Inc.

Putnam Investments

Massachusetts Financial Services

Newport Trust Company

John Hancock Life Insurance Company

Stadion Money Management

BTG International

State Street Bank and Trust Company

Mercer Trust Company

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented American Century Investments in an ERISA class action alleging fiduciary breaches brought by former participants in its 401(k) plan.
  • Defending FirstGroup America in a $10m suit alleging mismanagement of 401(k) plan assets.
  • Representing MFS Investment Management in a class action concerning the management of its $600m 401(k) plan.
  • Representing Newport Trust Company in litigation concerning its administration of an ESOP, with damages of over $800m claimed.
  • Representing healthcare company BTG International in a putative class action concerning the management of its $60m 401(k) plan.

Groom Law Group, Chartered

As the most comprehensive benefits boutique in the US, Groom Law Group has an expansive ERISA litigation team available to its client roster of plan sponsors, retirement funds and service providers. Michael Prame, Sarah Adams and practice head Lars Golumbic defend high-value class actions concerning breach of fiduciary and 401(k) fee litigation, claims involving executive compensation plans (including rabbi trusts and top-hat plans), contested plan terminations brought by the PBGC, and also cover withdrawal liability litigation. Adams also brings experience in church plan litigation, while class actions arising from ESOP investigations brought by the DOL are another strong point for Golumbic. The firm has an expansive health plan litigation offering through Mark Nielsen, who regularly acts on benefits disputes under the Americans with Disability Act. The firm is based in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Lars Golumbic

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Adams; Michael Prame; Mark Neilson

Testimonials

Best in class ESOP litigation practice with real experience of victories in litigation and unmatched familiarity with Labor Department.

Lars Golumbic is the top ESOP litigator in the country.

Key clients

Wilmington Trust, N.A.

Principal Financial Group

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Bankers Trust Company

Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan

Zander Group Holdings

EmblemHealth

Franciscan Alliance, Inc.

Stout Risius Ross

Financial Engines

M&T Bank

The Segal Company and Segal Advisors, Inc.

Supplemental Benefit Committee of the Navistar International Transportation Corp. Retiree Supplemental Benefit Program

GreatBanc Trust Company

Adventist Health System

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Matson Navigation Company, Inc.

Lowe’s Companies

New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund

Catholic Health Initiatives

Greystar Management Services

West Corporation

McBride & Son Homes, Inc.

Procter & Gamble

Aetna

Work highlights

  • Representing the Retirement Board of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan in a five-count class action alleging breaches of fiduciary duties.
  • Defended Financial Engines in a class action challenging the fee arrangements of the client’s investment advisory services.
  • Defending Aetna in a class action claiming wrongfully denied coverage for proton beam therapy.
  • Representing Principle Financial Group in two class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty arising from the operation of target-date funds.
  • Representing Lowe’s Companies in a class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty arising from investment options by the client.

Jenner & Block LLP

Recent innovative cases for Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago-based ERISA litigation team involved defending asset managers in class actions concerning the management of multibillion dollar stock funds, and allegations of RICO violations in a plan sponsor’s 401(k) plan management. High-profile plan sponsors routinely entrust the team to handle fiduciary breach claims, stock-drop litigation and anti-cutback matters. Joseph Torres recently joined from Winston & Strawn LLP, and is currently representing clients in the chemical and energy sectors regarding vested lifetime benefits claims. Craig Martin and Amanda Amert left the firm for Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in March 2020.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Torres

Testimonials

Jenner & Block’s ERISA litigation practice has unparalleled depth of experience.

I have been impressed with the entire team staffed to our case. Among the associates, Alexis Bates has been a particular stand out. She demonstrated a mastery of the facts of the case, and has impressed me in all of our interactions.

Key clients

The Northern Trust Company

Northwestern University

Morningstar

Alight Solutions

Associated Industries Management Services

Financial Engines

John Hamilton

Clair Couturier

United Refining Corporation

American Benefits Council

Aon Corporation

CenturyLink

PPG Industries

CONSOL Energy

Former Directors and Officers of Appvion Corporation

Work highlights

  • Defending CenturyLink and CenturyLink Investment Management Company in fiduciary breach allegations brought by an investor in its 401(k) plan.
  • Representing Northwestern University in a class action challenging administrative and investment management fees charged to the client’s 403(b) plan.
  • Defended Morningstar in a class action suit alleging RICO violations arising from the administration of investment services in its 401(k) plan.
  • Representing participants (both current and former employees) of Kroger’s pension plan in a breach of fiduciary claim against the fund’s trustees.
  • Defending Associated Industries Management Services and affiliated parties in excessive fee litigation filed by the DOL.

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown’s ERISA litigation experts are involved in a number of cutting-edge suits concerning 403(b) university plan litigation, with practice heads Nancy Ross and Brian Netter (based in Chicago and Washington DC, respectively) defending the likes of Georgetown University and Cornell University against high-value claims of fiduciary breaches. The team represents plan sponsors of publicly-listed companies in class actions challenging the administration of 401(k) plans, as well as novel matters involving the transferal of assets between defined contribution plans. Ross and Chicago-based Richard Novak are also engaged by ESOP trustees in litigation involving prohibited transaction claims.

Practice head(s):

Nancy Ross; Brian Netter

Other key lawyers:

Richard Novak

Testimonials

This team is simply outstanding- knows this area extremely well and are in high demand for their expertise. This is a complex area of law and the team is able to explain things in simple terms. Very responsive and pleasant to work with.

Nancy Ross and Deborah Hoffman are fantastic. They are experts in this area and able to break things down for non-ERISA attorneys to understand.

Key clients

AIG Insurance Company

AT&T

Columbia University

Cornell University

Georgetown University

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Northrop Grumman Corporation

University of Rochester

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale University

Work highlights

  • Represented Northrop Grumman’s senior management in two class actions challenging the administration of its $16bn 401(k) plan.
  • Obtained a dismissal for George Washington University in 403(b) plan litigation.
  • Obtained a favorable summary judgement for Cornell University in litigation challenging the administration of its 403(b) plan.
  • Representing AT&T in a class action challenging the administration of its $34bn 401(k) plan.
  • Represented the National Production Workers Union Severance Trust in a novel suit concerning the transferal of assets from one 401(k) plan to another.

Miller & Chevalier Chartered

Health benefits litigation is a strong focus for Miller & Chevalier Chartered’s Washington DC-based ERISA litigation team, owing to its extensive roster of health insurance clients. Typical work in this field sees practice head Anthony Shelly defending claims of wrongful denial of ERISA benefits, violations of lifetime benefit limits and violations of the Affordable Care Act. On the pension plan front ­– a growing practice for the team – Theresa Gee often represents defined benefit plan sponsors in litigation against the PBGC concerning withdrawal liabilities and enforcement actions brought by the DOL; the latter reinforced by Gee’s long-serving role at the DOL. On that note, Michael Khalil recently departed the firm for a position as trial attorney at the DOL.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Shelley

Other key lawyers:

Theresa Gee

Key clients

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company

Caring for Montanans

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

The ERISA Industry Committee

Delphi Salaried Retiree Association (DSRA)

Delta Pilot’s Pension Preservation Organization

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

American Benefits Council

Estate of Phyllis Wyeth

Work highlights

  • Defended health plan administrator Caring for Montanans (formerly known as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana) in a $10m breach of fiduciary claim brought by The Depot.
  • Representing the ERISA Industry Committee — on behalf of certain employers including Marriott International and Hyatt Corp. —  in a challenge to the City of Seattle’s initiative to require large hotels to provide additional worker compensation unless they are provided health benefits of a certain value.
  • Representing the Delta Pilots’ Pension Preservation Organization in a breach of fiduciary duty challenge to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s administration of the plan’s assets.
  • Defending insurance company Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield in litigation brought by Air Vac EMS concerning alleged violations of ERISA’s provisions incorporating Affordable Care Act regulations.
  • Representing Berkshire Hathaway in a putative ERISA class action suit challenging the client’s administration of its defined benefit and 401(k) plans.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP’s ERISA litigation practice maintains a high profile by defending financial services clients in class action suits concerning their 401(k) investment plan management strategy; representative examples include New York-based Russell Hirschhorn’s representation of Wells Fargo in fiduciary breach allegations (a mandate which he took over from the recently retired practice co-head Howard Shapiro) concerning its $35bn plan. Also on this front, New York-based practice head Myron Rumeld is currently defending allegations of prohibited transaction violations involving proprietary investments. Another stand-out aspect of the team is its stock-drop litigation expertise, having obtained favourable results for plan sponsors in a number of cases before the Supreme Court.

Practice head(s):

Myron Rumeld

Other key lawyers:

Russell Hirschhorn

Testimonials

The team is staffed with ERISA experts whose careers are devoted to this work. They take great care in understanding their client and the unique facts that can be distinguished from other cases. They do not have a cookie cutter model for their cases; they are creative thinkers.

The team works together extremely well and everyone has a specific role with very little duplication of effort. Everyone on the team has ERISA expertise, but they take that expertise further and uniquely apply it to the facts of the case and the client’s specific circumstances.  They are not afraid to try novel or untested arguments.

Key clients

Charles Schwab Corp.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Neuberger Berman Group LLC

Wells Fargo & Co.

American Federation of Musician and Employers’ Pension Fund

Princeton University

Intel Corporation

Interpublic Group of Companies

Lockheed Martin

The New York Times

National Basketball Association

Work highlights

  • Defended Wells Fargo in breach of fiduciary claims concerning the usage of target-fate funds.
  • Successfully defended Neuberger Berman Group in excessive fee litigation
  • Obtained a dismissal for The National Basketball Association in a class action alleging a short changing of pension benefits.
  • Defending the Trustees of the American Federation of Musician and Employers’ Pension Fund in a class action lawsuit alleging a breach of fiduciary duty by engaging in risky, international emerging markets investments, among other allegations.
  • Obtained a motion to dismiss for Wells Fargo concerning the usage of company stock as an investment option at a time when the plan fiduciaries allegedly knew or should have known about alleged improper sales practices.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Spearheaded by San Francisco-based Kathleen Cahill Slaught and Chicago-based Ian Morrison, the vast geographical reach of Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s ERISA litigation offering makes it a choice for third-party plan administrators and service providers with a national footprint. The department works closely with the firm’s broader benefits practice to provide risk-mitigation advice and pre-litigation support, and handles the full scope of excessive fee, breach of fiduciary and prohibited transaction litigation. San Francisco-based Ward Kallstrom often represents plan sponsors and fiduciaries in claw-back claims against healthcare service providers, while Chicago-based Mark Casciari and Ronald Kramer are currently handling withdrawal liability litigation for defined benefit plan sponsors. The team is also experienced in disputes arising from cash-balance plan conversions.

Practice head(s):

Kathleen Cahill Slaught; Ian Morrison

Testimonials

Kathleen Cahill Slaught is an excellent advisor- she is smart, knowledgeable, and is able to distill very complex issues into understandable, simple terms for our in-house team.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Nationally-recognized ERISA litigation expert Paul Ondrasik leads the team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Ondrasik is particularly experienced in stock-drop litigation, having defended household-name plan sponsors in high-profile class actions. Eric Serron and Sara Pikofsky routinely handle breach of fiduciary cases concerning the management of 401(k) plans, defined benefit plans and ESOPs, while Gwendolyn Prothro Renigar has a notable practice in representing health and welfare plan service providers in actions brought by the DOL. The team is also known for defending suits arising from the offering of employer securities as investment options, and is based out of Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ondrasik

Key clients

Express Scripts

National Indemnity Company

Allina Health System

Republic Services

Macys

Teamsters Joint Council No 83 of Virginia Pension

Work highlights

  • Defending Express Scripts in a putative nationwide class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty from a failure to negotiate lower EpiPen prices for ERISA plan members.
  • Defending National Indemnity Company in a class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA for a failure to remove the Sequoia Fund as an investment option in its 401(k) plan.
  • Defending Allina Health System in excessive fee litigation.
  • Defending Macy’s in claims brought by the Secretary of Labor alleging Title 1 violations in the operation of the client’s welfare benefits programs.
  • Representing Republic Services and various individuals serving as plan fiduciaries in defense of a class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty and ERISA violations.

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s ERISA litigation expertise spans the breadth of withdrawal liability, breach of fiduciary, stock-drop and healthcare plan disputes. Atlanta-based co-head Todd Wozniak has a notable practice in defending large-scale plan sponsors in fiduciary breach claims against their health and wellness plans concerning the provision of out-of-network services. Wozniak also has extensive ESOP litigation expertise, with recent issues involving high-value actions filed by the DOL. Practice co-heads Jeffrey Mamorsky and James Nelson, based in New York and Phoenix respectively, are also noteworthy contacts.

Practice head(s):

Todd Wozniak; James Nelson; Jeff Mamorsky

Key clients

Stiefel Laboratories

GlaxoSmithKline

Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.

Henny Penny Corporation

Provident Trust Group

RVR, Inc.

RVNB Holdings, Inc.

Xilinx

VMware

Work highlights

  • Representing Henny Penny Corporation in breach of fiduciary duty proceedings filed against the company’s ESOP trustee.
  • Defending Stiefel Laboratories in a case brought by a former CFO alleging an undervaluation of his stock held in an employee stock bonus plan.
  • Representing Provident – an individual retirement account (IRA) administrator – in a class action brought by IRA holders alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Potential damages are estimated at $100m.
  • Represented consulting firm RVR as ESOP sponsor in a suit filed by the Secretary of Labor alleging a failure of due diligence and other ERISA violation upon to the sale of the company.
  • Defending RVNB Holdings in a class action filed by former ESOP participants alleging ERISA violations connected to the termination of the ESOP.

Jackson Lewis P.C.

New Orleans-based firm Jackson Lewis P.C. experienced considerable growth in the ERISA litigation department with the high-profile additions of Howard Shapiro and Stacey Cerrone enhancing the firm’s status in this field. Shapiro co-heads the practice with René Thorne out of the New Orleans office; they provide expertise in church plan litigation, breach of fiduciary cases, prohibited transaction allegations and cash-balance litigation. Cerrone often represents health and welfare fund trustees, with a recent matter concerning an allegedly improper termination of a Health Reimbursement Account. Charles Seemann and Greenville-based Robert Wood are noted for handling disputes concerning the provision of medical and workplace-injury and benefits.

Practice head(s):

René Thorne; Howard Shapiro

Key clients

Honeywell, Inc.

Volvo North America, Inc.

DuPont

Franciscan Ministries

Sutter Health

LHC Group

Pfizer, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Volvo North America in ERISA litigation concerning a claim for medical benefits.
  • Defended Franciscan Ministries in a suit alleging a substantial under funding of its pension plan.

King & Spalding LLP

Atlanta-based firm King & Spalding LLP is retained by a roster of clients in the financial services, energy and consumer goods sectors to handle the breadth of ERISA litigation matters. Recent highlights in the health plan space for practice head David Tetrick involved high-value liability claims to lifetime-vested benefits. On the plaintiff side, Washington DC-based Bobby Burchfield often represents healthcare service providers against plan administrators. Tetrick and Darren Shuler regularly defend plan sponsors in breach of fiduciary litigation, class actions concerning prohibited transactions, and novel class actions concerning the usage of proprietary funds in 401(k) investment strategy.

Practice head(s):

David Tetrick

Other key lawyers:

Bobby Burchfield; Darren Schuler

Testimonials

Has breadth and depth of experience and the ability to not only spot potential issues ahead of time, but to think through a strategy to deal with them under different scenarios.

The firm brings an unprecedented amount of knowledge and experience to the ERISA litigation area. The value of such experience in this area cannot be overstated.

Key clients

The Coca-Cola Company

The Home Depot

SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Peabody Energy Corporation

Mueller Water Products

Moen, Inc. (a subsidiary of Fortune Brands)

Aramco Services Company

Chevron Corporation

CNH Industrial

Meritor Inc.

Borg Warner

Work highlights

  • Representing The Home Depot in a class action challenging excessive fees of chosen investment advisors and poor investment returns of its 401(k) plan.
  • Defending SunTrust Banks in a class action concerning the usage of proprietary funds as investment alternatives in its 401(k) plan.
  • Successfully defended Solvay U.S.A. in breach of fiduciary claims against its health and welfare benefit plans.
  • Defending The Coca-Cola Company in a dispute involving an ERISA top-hat plan for senior executives. The claims concern the entitlement to a deceased employee’s benefits.
  • Representing DaVita and its dialysis services clinics in litigation against several group health benefit plans for violations of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and ERISA.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

The growing ERISA litigation practice at McDermott Will & Emery LLP is headed up by Ted Becker and Christian Nemeth in Chicago, and Brian Cousin in New York. A lengthy roster of ESOP trustees calls upon the team to handle complex litigation and DoL investigations, as well as matters involving wrongful plan terminations, prohibited transactions and fiduciary breaches. The firm’s ERISA Health & Welfare Fiduciary Task Force was recently established in response to the growing field of health plan litigation; the team represents significant health insurance clients including Cigna and Aetna in this field.

Practice head(s):

Ted Becker; Brian Cousin; Christian Nemeth

Key clients

Aetna

Banner Health

Chrysler

Cigna

Demoulas Super Markets

Ericsson

Houlihan Lokey Capital

Reliance Trust Company

The American Society of Appraisers

Trinity Industries

Work highlights

  • Represented health insurance client Cigna in litigation brought by numerous hospitals alleging an unlawful denial of benefits claims.
  • Represented health insurance client Aetna in an ERISA litigation case concerning the provision of benefits under a medical plan.
  • Representing Ericsson in a case concerning the provision of disability benefits under ERISA.
  • Defended DeMoulas Super Markets in a case concerning the management of assets in a profit-sharing retirement plan.
  • Represented Cigna in a high-value ERISA class action brought by a nursing facility.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

A solid portfolio of financial services institutions and public companies call upon Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ERISA litigation experts to handle high-stakes disputes. Practice head Lewis Clayton leads the team on cases involving fiduciary breach allegations, high-value stock-drop claims and actuarial malpractice disputes. Clayton and commercial litigator Jeffrey Recher are handling disputes surrounding the usage of third party investors in a client’s plan investment strategy. The team is based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Lewis Clayton

Other key lawyers:

Jeffrey Recher

Key clients

Bank of New York Mellon

ExxonMobil Corporation

Citigroup/Salomon Smith Barney

SS&C Technologies, Inc.

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment

The Kraft Heinz Company

Work highlights

  • Defending DST Systems against allegations of ERISA violations relating to the diversification of its 401(k) plan and performance of the Valeant investment.
  • Representing the Employee Benefits Administration Board of Kraft Heinz in an ERISA class action concerning $15.4bn in non-cash impairment charges reported by Kraft Heinz to its goodwill and intangible assets.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Representative matters for Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s ERISA litigation practice involve defending plan sponsors in challenges to the administration of health benefits plans, 401(k) fiduciary breach allegations and enforcement actions by the DOL. Employment litigation practice head Jeffrey Klein and Nicholas Pappas, both based in New York, are key contacts.

Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox LLP’s ERISA litigation team focuses on healthcare disputes, with a steady stream of managed care litigation on behalf of healthcare service providers. Recent work in this field saw Washington DC-based practice head Caroline English handling both multimillion-dollar out-of-network reimbursement and surprise-billing disputes. The team also has a more modest pension plan offering for plan sponsors (including 401(k) fiduciary breach and stock-drop litigation), while English regularly represents debtors in bankruptcy proceedings involving retirement plan assets.

Practice head(s):

Caroline English

Key clients

Suffolk School Employees Health Plan and Trustees

Work highlights

  • Representing the Suffolk School Employees Health Plan and Trustees in withdrawal liability litigation brought by the Sayville School District.

Baker McKenzie LLP

San Francisco-based practice co-head James Baker and Chicago-based co-head Lisa Brogan are go-to names at Baker McKenzie LLP for ERISA litigation. Typical mandates involve ERISA fiduciary litigation for insurance companies, lawsuits involving the denial of severance pay, healthcare plan disputes and defending defined benefit plan sponsors in withdrawal liability litigation. Baker also cites a niche expertise in acting for employer-sponsored plan participants against health plan service providers. 401(k) stock-drop litigation, ESOP disputes and cash-balance plan disputes are also handled.

Practice head(s):

James Baker; Lisa Brogan

Key clients

UA Local 38 ERISA Trust Funds

Quest Diagnostics

EVI

Allied Universal

Headlands Technologies

Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP handles high-profile ERISA litigation cases involving annuity contracts, breach of fiduciary claims, prohibited transactions and actions by the DOL. Key contacts include Jeffrey Huvelle, Robert Newman and Christian Pistilli, all based in Washington DC.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

ERISA litigation cases at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP are handled by the broader litigation team which includes the Los Angeles-based Christopher Chorba and Richard Doren, along with Washington DC-based Jason Schwartz. The team has experience in cases involving the recovery of overpayments to healthcare service providers and withdrawal liabilities. Former practice co-head Eugene Scalia now acts as the United States Secretary of Labor.

Jones Day

Considerable expertise in withdrawal liability disputes makes Jones Day’s ERISA litigation offering a preferred choice for plan sponsors of multiemployer funds; recent engagements for Washington DC-based practice head Evan Miller involved questions relating to actuarial assumptions for The New York Times, as well as successor liabilities for a national grocery supplier. The team is also engaged in disputes concerning the provision of health benefits and breach of fiduciary claims.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Hagen; Evan Miller

Key clients

Reynolds American, Inc. No

General Motors No

C&S Wholesale Grocers

The New York Times

Peabody Energy Corporation

Timken

MillerCoors

United Natural Foods Inc.

Work highlights

  • Representing C&S Wholesale Grocers in contesting a $60m withdrawal liability claim brought by the NY Teamsters Pension Fund.
  • Obtained a dismissal for Halliburton of a class action filed by former employee alleging an unlawful denial of early-retirement benefits.
  • Defending Flowers Foods in a suit brought by medical provider Experience Infusion Center alleging a failure to properly pay for medical treatments provided to the spouse of a company employee.

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

Based in New York and leveraging the firm’s significant roster of multiemployer clients, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP’s ERISA litigation leader Ronald Richman represents plan sponsors and administrators in disputes concerning the withdrawal liabilities of multiemployer funds. A recent stand-out matter saw Richman representing the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund in a high-profile dispute against The New York Times.

Practice head(s):

Ronald Richman

Key clients

Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund

NRF and Laundry Dry Cleaning Workers Allied Industries Retirement Fund

Work highlights

  • Represented the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Publishers’ Pension Fund in a landmark $26 million withdrawal liability dispute against The New York Times and the New York Daily News.
  • Represented NRF and Laundry Dry Cleaning Workers Allied Industries Retirement Fund in a $60m withdrawal liability dispute.

Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin LLP provides a full-service ERISA litigation practice, fielding expertise in stock-drop litigation, breach of fiduciary class actions, excessive fee claims, and health and welfare plan litigation. Mark Block, Joel Feldman and Eric Mattson – all based in Chicago – are key contacts.