John J. McGowan Jr.

Partner

Cleveland
T 216.861.7475  |  F 216.696.0740

"fantastic - he's very technical, good at healthcare reform, and a creative and practical attorney."

— Chambers USA 2014

John McGowan has almost 30 years of professional experience, including the design, defense, and attack of benefit plans, plan sponsors, and plan fiduciaries. He handles special challenges that plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, and other stakeholders face from plan-covered individuals and from government agencies when things go wrong, regardless of the root cause. John considers all aspects of a matter facing his clients and crafts practical solutions that will withstand potential obstacles. Particular areas of experience include multiemployer plan controversies, the Affordable Care Act, worker misclassification matters, and executive-level compensatory arrangements.

John is ranked in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation and regularly is listed in The Best Lawyers in America©.

Select Experience

  • In litigation spanning eight years, John was a key member of a team representing a business owner who sold his family’s business to the business's employees by setting up an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The owner then was sued by a class consisting of current and former employees claiming the terms of the sale were unfair. Contentious litigation ensued, with three separate employee groups taking extreme positions. Following a series of strategic victories on key motions, including one forcing a division of the class into separate classes and the appointment of separate counsel, and one involving the realignment of fiduciaries, the case was settled on groups economically favorable to the client.
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Experience

  • In litigation spanning eight years, John was a key member of a team representing a business owner who sold his family's business to the business’s employees by setting up an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The owner then was sued by a class consisting of current and former employees claiming the terms of the sale were unfair. Contentious litigation ensued, with three separate employee groups taking extreme positions. Following a series of strategic victories on key motions, including one forcing a division of the class into separate classes and the appointment of separate counsel, and one involving the realignment of fiduciaries, the case was settled on groups economically favorable to the client.
  • John helped an international manufacturer restructure its commitments, following the strategic acquisition of a failing business with substantial legacy costs. During the restructuring process, John helped the client face down three class action lawsuits brought from retirees—a certified class action involving collectively-bargained retirees, a putative class action involving management retirees, and an enforcement action brought to enforce a consent decree John's client was alleged to have violated, which stemmed from the settlement of a leveraged buy-out involving the company that had sold John's client its business. John appeared in the Second and Sixth U.S. Courts of Appeals and in U.S. district courts in Ohio, Connecticut, and Alabama, to overcome the three lawsuits, and eventually established a framework his client could use to modify or eliminate the retiree coverages, and thus control or eliminate the client’s legacy costs.

Recognitions

  • McGowan Jr, John JChambers USA: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation in Ohio (2006 to 2014)
    • Band 1 in Ohio (2008 to 2014)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2008 to 2015)
    Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC
    • Cleveland: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
      • Best Lawyers® 2014 "Lawyer of the Year"
    • Cleveland: Litigation – ERISA
      • Best Lawyers® 2015 "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2005 to 2014)

Memberships

  • American Bar Association 
    • Tax Law Section 
    • Labor and Employment Law Section (Employee Benefits Committee)
    • Tort and Insurance Law Section
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Internal Revenue Service: TEGE Advisory Council, Great Lakes Region

Services

Industries

Emerging Issues

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1986
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1996
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Tax Court, 1986
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2004
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 1994
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1984
  • Ohio, 1984

Education

  • J.D., The University of Toledo College of Law, 1983
  • B.B.A., Accounting, The University of Toledo, 1978