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
Supreme Court to decide if a TCPA class action can be mooted by a pre-certification offer of judgment
May 19, 2015
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court accepted certiorari to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Campbell-Eward Co. v. Gomez, 768 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2014), which involved a TCPA class action brought by the recipient of a text...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Status of Pay-for-Delay Cases Nearly Two Years After Actavis – “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
May 18, 2015
Nearly two years ago the Supreme Court issued its opinion in FTC v. Actavis, 133 S. Ct. 2223 (2013), holding that a reverse payment made by a brand manufacturer to a generic manufacturer to resolve pending patent litigation could satisfy a...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Third Circuit Clarifies Standard for Ascertainability
May 12, 2015
In a recent ruling vacating denial of class certification, the Third Circuit provided guidance on the scope of the implied “ascertainability” requirement under Rule 23. Byrd v. Aaron’s, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6190 (3d Cir. April 16...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Karlsgodt to Speak at June Strafford Web Seminar
May 8, 2015
Class Action Lawsuit Defense blog contributor and leader of BakerHostetler’s Class Action Defense team, Paul Karlsgodt  will speak in an upcoming Strafford live phone/web seminar, “Statistics in Class Certification and at Trial: Leveraging...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Supreme Court Grants Cert in Spokeo Case
April 28, 2015
The Supreme Court yesterday morning granted Spokeo, Inc.’s petition for a writ of certiorari in the closely watched case of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, No. 13-1339. The case presents the question as to whether defendants can be held liable for...
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