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 Seventh Circuit Revisits Standing for Data Breach Class Actions
February 5, 2016
One obstacle for named plaintiffs in proposed data breach class actions is the extent to which plaintiffs must allege an injury-in-fact to have standing. Disputes often arise about whether proactive efforts to mitigate against the...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Arkansas Federal Court to Consider Sanctioning Attorneys for Using Federal Jurisdiction as “Bargaining Chip” in Negotiating State-Court Class Settlement
January 27, 2016
In Adams et al. v. United Services Automobile Ass’n et al., W.D. Ark. No. 2:14-cv-02013, Chief District Judge P.K. Holmes III of the Western District of Arkansas will soon decide whether to sanction attorneys who negotiated a class...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Supreme Court Holds Unaccepted Offers for Full Relief Do Not Moot Class Actions
January 21, 2016
Relying on “basic principles of contract law,” the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that an unaccepted settlement offer and offer of judgment under Rule 68 are “legal nullit[ies]” that have no effect on whether a live controversy remains...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Supreme Court Disconnects Plaintiffs’ Attempt to Avoid Class Arbitration Waiver
December 16, 2015
In a 6-3 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court in DirecTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, 577 U.S. ___, S. Ct. (2015) reversed a decision of the California Court of Appeals that refused to enforce a class action arbitration waiver on unconscionability...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Akron Law Review Symposium Issue on the Class Action Jurisprudence of the Roberts Court
November 16, 2015
In the latest edition of the Akron Law Review, The Class Action After a Decade of Roberts Court Decisions, Volume 48, Issue 4 (2015), partner Paul Karlsgodt and Dustin contributed to “The Practical Approach: How the Roberts Court Has...
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