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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Professionals

Name Title Office Email
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner Denver
Partner Cleveland
Partner Columbus
Partner Cleveland
Partner Columbus
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner Columbus
Partner New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland

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

  • Law360: Class Action "Practice Group of the Year" (2014)
  • LA Daily Journal: Top Appellate Reversals of 2014
  • Chambers USA 2017: Two Attorneys Listed
    • Paul Karlsgodt
    • Daniel Warren
  • Best Lawyers in America® 2017: Seven Attorneys Listed
    • Rodger Eckelberry
    • Joe Ezzie
    • Mark Johnson
    • Richard Knoth
    • Jerry Linscott
    • George Tzanetopoulos
    • Dan Warren
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, we were named to the 2018 BTI Client Service 30 for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Corporate Counsel® magazine guide to in-house law departments: "Go-to Law Firm" for litigation

News

Publications

Blog

In The Blogs

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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
The Top 10 Class-Action-Related Developments of 2017
January 10, 2018
2017 was a relatively quiet year for major class action news, especially in the Supreme Court, which addressed only a handful of cases that might have an impact on class actions and reached decisions only in a couple of those cases...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Kentucky Federal Court Brushes Aside Pre-emptive Attack on Class Allegations in Phishing Case, Rejects Out-of-the-Box Defense Strategy
By David M. McMillan
December 28, 2017
Brushing aside apparent flaws in a proposed class definition, a federal court in Kentucky declined to dismiss class allegations against North Carolina-based pharmacy services provider Pharm-Save Inc. (Pharm-Save) stemming from a W-2...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Seventh Circuit Ties Class Counsel’s Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees to Amount Claimed by Class, in Context of a Judgment
November 20, 2017
On November 14, 2017, the Seventh Circuit issued its third opinion ending a class action that was almost a decade old. Holtzman v. Turza, No. 17-2330, 2017 WL 5450484 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2017). The class action alleged that the defendant...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
TCPA Class Denied Certification Due to Binding Authority of Yaakov and Proof of Individualized Issues of Consent
November 13, 2017
A recent order from the Northern District of Illinois granted a defendant’s motion to deny class certification regarding “unsolicited” fax advertisements allegedly sent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Eleventh Circuit Outlines the Key to an Individual Arbitration Agreement
By Gretchen L. Jewell
October 10, 2017
The Eleventh Circuit recently upheld an arbitration agreement in a consumer class action involving checking overdraft fees. In Johnson v. KeyBank N.A., 11th Cir. No. 15-10779 (Sept. 26, 2017), the plaintiffs brought a putative class action...
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