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 Latest on the Use of Retained Asset Accounts to Pay Life Insurance Benefits
July 21, 2014
In Merrimon v. Unum Life Insurance Co. of America, 2014 WL 2960024 (1st Cir. July 2, 2014), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit became the third circuit court to approve an insurance company’s use of a retained asset account...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Sixth Circuit Affirms Certification and Summary Judgment for TCPA Class, Despite State Law Class Action Prohibition
July 14, 2014
On July 9, 2014, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that a consumer TCPA class action could proceed against Lake City Industrial Products, rejecting Lake City’s argument that Michigan law prohibited TCPA class actions. ...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Basic Is Dying a Slow Death: The Supreme Court Upholds the Fraud-on-the-Market Presumption in Halliburton but Allows Rebuttal
June 26, 2014
Given the opportunity to overrule its landmark 1988 decision in Basic v. Levinson, in which it created the fraud-on-the-market presumption, the Supreme Court declined. The Court found in its decision this week in Halliburton that, while it...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Low-Tech Proof In a High-Tech World: Northern District of California Denies Class Certification In Hulu Data Privacy Case
June 20, 2014
On June 16, the Northern District of California denied a motion for class certification in In re Hulu Privacy Litigation, No. C 11-03764 LB, ECF No. 111.  The plaintiffs in that action alleged that Hulu violated the Video Privacy...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
First Circuit Sides with Pharmaceutical Manufacturer in Dismissing Shareholder Class Action
By David M. McMillan
June 13, 2014
First Circuit Sides with Pharmaceutical Manufacturer in Dismissing Shareholder Class Action In a huge victory for Massachusetts-based biologics manufacturer Genzyme Corporation, the First Circuit Court of Appeals on June 5, 2014 affirmed...
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