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
Judge Easterbrook Holds Unaccepted Offer of Judgment Does Not Moot an Individual TCPA Claim
August 20, 2015
As we covered here, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted certiorari in Campbell-Eward Co. v. Gomez, 768 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2014), to decide the question of whether a full-relief offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, made...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
District Court Follows Supreme Court’s Lead in Halliburton, Allows Class Action to Proceed with Narrowed Factual Scope
By David M. McMillan
July 31, 2015
Applying the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2398 (2014) (“Halliburton II”), which allowed companies facing securities fraud class actions to defeat certification by presenting...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The Sixth Circuit Expands American Pipe Tolling
July 13, 2015
On July 7, the Sixth Circuit decided Phipps v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 13-6194, 2015 WL 4079441 (6th Cir. July 7, 2015), an interlocutory appeal in one of the regional progeny of the U.S. Supreme Court’s famous decision in Wal-Mart...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
A Year Later: The Impact of Halliburton II Is Still Developing
July 1, 2015
In June 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund Inc. (“Halliburton II”), a putative class action in which Halliburton investors alleged that the company made misrepresentations designed to...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Class Certification of California Price Advertisement Case Gives Cause for Concern
June 30, 2015
Spann v. JCPenney and People of California v. Overstock.com By Rodger L. Eckelberry, Rand L. McClellan, and Jacqueline K. Matthews June 30, 2015 A recent class certification decision in California involving challenges to a retailer’s price...
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