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 US Supreme Court's Ruling in American Pipe Does Not Extend to Allow Tolling of Statutes of Limitation in Successive Class Actions
June 13, 2018
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has limited the reach of its landmark decision in American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538 (1974), which tolled the statute of limitations applicable to a timely filed putative class...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
State Court Adoption of Comcast v. Behrend
By Albert G. Lin, Rand L. McClellan
June 11, 2018
In Comcast v. Behrend, 569 U.S. 27 (2013), the United States Supreme Court clarified the requirements for establishing that classwide injury and damages predominate over individual issues for the purposes of FRCP 23(b)(3). In particular...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
2018 Class Action Landscape
May 15, 2018
In 2016, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, resolving a circuit split on whether an unaccepted offer of judgment pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure could moot a named...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Proposed Rule 23 Amendment for Class Action Settlement: Sea Change or Codification of the Status Quo?
May 11, 2018
Proposed amendments to the class action settlement process in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1, 2018. One of the proposed amendments requires that “[t]he parties must provide the court with...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Federal Authorities Continue to Monitor Proposed Class Action Settlements
By Douglas A. Vonderhaar
April 18, 2018
Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continue to scrutinize class settlements to ensure that neither defendants nor class action counsel are improperly benefiting at the expense of class...
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