Class Action Defense - ERISA

In recent years, the number of class actions brought against benefit plans, employer plan sponsors, and fiduciaries over alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has surged. Having navigated the ins and outs of ERISA’s provisions for decades, our attorneys have a deep understanding of this complex and ever-evolving statute.

Collaborating with attorneys on our employment and benefits teams who have strong working knowledge of both ERISA and the Affordable Care Act, we develop and execute solid defense strategies by using our decades of class action procedural experience.

With a strong track record of defending clients on issues ranging from misclassification issues, Pension Benefit Gauranty Corporation litigation, and retiree health insurance benefits to stock drop cases, cash balance cases, and claims alleging imprudent plan investments, we are well-equipped to represent clients in high-stakes litigation where hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line.

Select Experience

  • Obtained dismissal based on standing grounds in an ERISA “stock drop” case involving a company stock fund that lost hundreds of millions of dollars over a two-year period. The decision—which significantly changed the way in which damages may be measured in these types of cases—was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit on appeal.
  • Obtained judgment in favor of a technology manufacturing company after defending it through trial and subsequent appeal in a case in which plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of salaried and hourly employees and asserted claims under ERISA, alleging entitlement to retiree health insurance benefits arising out of a plant that had been sold years before. The action was one of very few in this arena that have been tried and won by the defense.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of Michelin North America and its operating company, the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company, in district court in a putative class action challenging the substantial modification of retiree medical benefits. The decision was subsequently affirmed by the Sixth Circuit, and an attempt by plaintiffs to appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied.
  • Obtained dismissal of class action against Electronic Data Systems, in which the plaintiffs sought class certification of claims under ERISA under the theory that if overtime pay remained unpaid, the plaintiffs’ pension and 401(k) accounts were adversely affected, and that the failure to properly classify employees for overtime purposes amounted to a breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of former plan trustee of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust relating to compensation agreement that trustee had entered into with family member prior to sale of company to employees.
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Experience

  • Obtained dismissal based on standing grounds in an ERISA “stock drop” case involving a company stock fund that lost hundreds of millions of dollars over a two-year period. The decision—which significantly changed the way in which damages may be measured in these types of cases—was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit on appeal.
  • Obtained judgment in favor of a technology manufacturing company after defending it through trial and subsequent appeal in a case in which plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of salaried and hourly employees and asserted claims under ERISA, alleging entitlement to retiree health insurance benefits arising out of a plant that had been sold years before. The action was one of very few in this arena that have been tried and won by the defense.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of Michelin North America and its operating company, the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company, in district court in a putative class action challenging the substantial modification of retiree medical benefits. The decision was subsequently affirmed by the Sixth Circuit, and an attempt by plaintiffs to appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied.
  • Obtained dismissal of class action against Electronic Data Systems, in which the plaintiffs sought class certification of claims under ERISA under the theory that if overtime pay remained unpaid, the plaintiffs’ pension and 401(k) accounts were adversely affected, and that the failure to properly classify employees for overtime purposes amounted to a breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of former plan trustee of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust relating to compensation agreement that trustee had entered into with family member prior to sale of company to employees.

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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Concrete and Particularized Part II: What Spokeo May Mean for Class Actions
May 20, 2016
This blog post is the second in a series of posts that Baker & Hostetler LLP is devoting to the significant decision Robins v. Spokeo, No. 13-1339, 537 U.S. ___ (2016) (Spokeo). Monday’s post focused on Spokeo’s effect on privacy class...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Supreme Court Holds That Plaintiffs Must Allege Concrete and Particularized Injury To Have Standing To Assert FCRA Claim
May 16, 2016
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., which addressed the question of whether a plaintiff has satisfied Article III’s injury-in-fact standing requirement by alleging a statutory violation but no concrete injury. Our...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
CFPB Announces Proposed Ban to Mandatory Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements
May 12, 2016
Our Financial Services Blog recently posted about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on a proposed rule to prohibit covered institutions from including, in most core consumer contracts...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The Eighth Circuit Weighs in on Ascertainability
May 9, 2016
Last week, the Eighth Circuit weighed in on a hot and unsettled topic: the ascertainability standard for class certification. In Sandusky Wellness Center, LLC v. Medtox Scientific, Inc., No. 15-1317, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7992 (8th Cir. May...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Paul Karlsgodt to Chair ABA Western Regional CLE Program on Class Actions and Mass Torts
May 9, 2016
On May 27, Partner Paul Karlsgodt, leader of BakerHostetler’s Class Action Defense team, will chair the third annual ABA Western Regional CLE Program on Class Actions and Mass Torts in San Francisco. The program will explore topics such as...
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