Class Action Defense - ERISA

Overview

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 Gauranty 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.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Litigation
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Ohio) – Band 2 (2020)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Colorado) – Recognized (2019)
    • Retail: National – Band 3 (2020)
  • Law360: Class Action "Practice Group of the Year" (2014)
  • LA Daily Journal: Top Appellate Reversals of 2014
  • Corporate Counsel® magazine guide to in-house law departments: "Go-to Law Firm" for litigation.
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, BakerHostetler was named to the 2020 BTI Client Service 30 for the sixth consecutive year.

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In The Blogs

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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Eleventh Circuit Stands Firm – No Incentive Awards for Class Representatives
By Kamran B. Ahmadian
August 12, 2022
Nearly two years after it issued its initial decision in Johnson v. NPAS Sols., LLC, in which it held incentive awards for class representatives to be per se unlawful, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied a...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Florida Requires Concrete Injury For Standing - Class Action Defense
By Joel Griswold
July 14, 2022
On July 13, 2022, the Florida District Court of Appeal for the Fourth District affirmed an order dismissing a putative class action filed under the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) for lack of standing. Southam v...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The Demand Curve Problem for UCL Class Actions
By Brian A. Troyer
June 1, 2022
A recent opinion from a California federal court, Mier v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. et al., No. 8:20-cv-01979-DOC-ADS, slip op. (C.D. Cal. May 9, 2022),touches on an aspect of econometric modeling that class action defense counsel should...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
BakerHostetler Releases Insurance Class Action Update
By Mark A. Johnson
May 19, 2022
The Class Action Defense team released its Insurance Quarterly Report covering the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Included in the report are updates and analyses about property and casualty class action lawsuits...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case Regarding Whether State Business Registration Requirements Can Create General Personal Jurisdiction
By Ali I. Haque
May 3, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from requiring a corporation to consent to personal jurisdiction as a condition to doing business in the state...
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