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 Guarantee 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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In The Blogs

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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The FTC’s Thoughts on Why “Unlimited Data” Shouldn’t Need Scare Quotes
November 14, 2014
“Unlimited data” shouldn’t need scare quotes: what recent FTC action may mean for wireless providers, broadband companies, and class action plaintiffs On October 28, 2014, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued AT&T’s mobile...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Class Action Disgorgement Case Dismissed Against PG&E as Remedy Sought Would Interfere with Filed Rates
October 17, 2014
Companies in regulated markets, such as insurance and energy, are increasing litigating issues surrounding the “filed rate doctrine,” or in other words, whether they can be sued in a class action where the remedy sought necessarily...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
BakerHostetler Antitrust Lawyer Examines Recent Development in Antitrust Class Action Litigation
October 15, 2014
The Antitrust Review of the Americas 2015 features a chapter by BakerHostetler antitrust partner Edmund W. Searby entitled, “United States: Private Antitrust Litigation – Class Actions.”  He wrote: “As many appreciate, two Supreme Court...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Court Takes Cue from Comcast v. Behrend, Certifies Class as to Liability but not Damages
By David M. McMillan
October 9, 2014
Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. In what appears to be an increasingly common practice since the Supreme Court decided Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426 (2013), the Southern District of New York...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Federal Magistrate Recommends Dismissing TCPA Class Claims Against Coke
September 15, 2014
Responding to an invitation to text can satisfy TCPA’s Express Consent Requirement In a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) putative class action against Coca-Cola and its marketing agent, a Northern District of Alabama magistrate...
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