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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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
When a Published Data Breach is a Covered Data Breach
April 19, 2016
Can an inadvertent Internet posting of a patient’s medical information trigger insurance coverage for liability stemming from a data-breach class action? The Fourth Circuit held last week that it can, and it added to the growing body of...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Sixth Circuit Decision Clarifies Timing of Removal Under the Class Action Fairness Act
April 8, 2016
Partner Greg Mersol of BakerHostetler’s Employment Class Action Blog published a blog post regarding a recent Sixth Circuit decision that clarified the timing of removal under the Class Action Fairness Act.  As stated in the post, the...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Seventh Circuit Throws Out TransUnion’s Clickwrap Agreement and Incorporated Class Waiver
April 7, 2016
In recent years, and in particular since decisions like AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011), a powerful defense to consumer class actions has been arbitration agreements that include class waivers. The Supreme Court’s...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Circuits Clash Over Ascertainability Standard
April 6, 2016
The Third and Seventh circuits have reached a sharp divide during the past year over the meaning of the implied “ascertainability” prerequisite to class certification. The Third Circuit affirmed a narrow version of ascertainability in Byrd...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo: The Supreme Court Declines to Rule Out Representative Evidence in Class Actions
March 25, 2016
In Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, 577 U.S. __ (2016), the Supreme Court considered whether a case could proceed as a class action under Rule 23(b)(3) when the plaintiffs relied upon statistical, representative evidence to show both the...
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