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 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.

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In The Blogs

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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Sanctions Imposed on Five Attorneys for Class Settlement Forum Shopping
August 15, 2016
Five Arkansas attorneys have been formally reprimanded by a federal judge in the Western District of Arkansas after stipulating to dismissal “for the purposes of seeking a more favorable forum and avoiding an adverse decision” in...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Signed, sealed, delivered, but not dismissed: the Sixth Circuit takes on Campbell-Ewald’s offered vs. delivered distinction
By Stanley C. Ball
August 10, 2016
Following the Supreme Court’s January decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663 (2016) that a defendant cannot moot a plaintiff’s individual claim by simply offering to satisfy the plaintiff’s demand before a motion for class...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Second Circuit Confirms Ability of Defendants to Challenge and Defeat Class Certification Even After Loss in Jury Trial
July 29, 2016
The Second Circuit’s recent post-trial decertification of the class in Mazzei v. The Money Store, et al. has garnered attention about decertification as a defense strategy. The decision confirms that plaintiffs’ burden to prove compliance...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Concrete and Particularized Part III: Initial Circuit Court Reactions to Spokeo
July 19, 2016
  In the two months since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-awaited decision in Robins v. Spokeo, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), a handful of federal circuits have applied the decision to pending disputes over Article III standing...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
First Circuit Subscribes to a Minority View: Free App Users Allowed to Proceed With Privacy Class Action Under the Video Privacy Protection Act
June 30, 2016
In Yershov v. Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7791 (1st Cir. Apr. 29, 2016), the First Circuit held that users of free mobile applications, or “apps,” can bring a claim against an online service provider...
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