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
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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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Ninth Circuit First to Take Up Offers of Judgment After Campbell-Ewald
June 21, 2016
Co-authored by: Erica L. Cook As we reported earlier this year in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663, 672 (2016), the Supreme Court held that a putative class action does not become moot when a defendant merely offers a named...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Seventh Circuit Bucks the Trend, Holding That Class and Collective Action Waivers in Employee Arbitration Agreements Violate the NLRA
June 8, 2016
In Lewis v. Epic Systems Corp., No. 15-2997 (7th Cir. May 26, 2016) (slip op.), the Seventh Circuit held that class and collective action waivers in arbitration agreements are not enforceable because they violate the National Labor...
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Class Action Lawsuit Defense
Post-Tyson Foods, Defendants Should Take the Offensive in Discovery Sampling
June 1, 2016
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Tyson Foods and in light of the greater emphasis on proportionality in the amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, defendants can expect to see an increase in the use of sampling in class action...
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