ERISA Litigation


In recent years, the number of lawsuits — both single-plaintiff cases and class actions — brought against benefit plans, employer plan sponsors and fiduciaries over alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has surged. Whether millions of dollars are on the line or potential regulatory fallout is looming, we are well equipped to defend clients in high-stakes litigation due to our wide-ranging ERISA knowledge, combined with our unmatched trial skills.

We represent employers with benefit plans, employer plan sponsors, plan administrators, investment managers/advisors, and plan fiduciaries in a wide range of ERISA-related disputes. Those matters include misclassification issues, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation litigation, retiree health insurance benefits, stock drop cases, cash balance disputes, and claims alleging imprudent plan investments or fiduciary breaches. We focus on counseling our clients to resolve benefits matters in order to avoid litigation. When litigation is unavoidable, our ERISA team strategically leverages pretrial motions to avoid trial.

The specific legal issues that arise in ERISA litigation are multifaceted and nuanced. Our ERISA Litigation team, consisting of attorneys from our Labor and Employment Practice Group and our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation team who have strong working knowledge of both ERISA and the Affordable Care Act, offers decades of experience navigating the ins and outs of ERISA’s provisions. Our background facilitates solid defense strategies for both single-plaintiff lawsuits and class actions.

Along with this surge of ERISA lawsuits comes increased oversight and scrutiny from regulatory agencies. Because litigation often triggers regulatory action, or vice versa, it is important to take a holistic look at ERISA dispute resolution. Rather than attempt shortsighted efforts to resolve the dispute at hand, our experienced attorneys take a strategic approach to defense and dispute resolution to ward off any potential lawsuits, audits or regulatory actions that may be implicated in the future. We have successfully defended clients in private-sector litigation, regulatory compliance matters and ERISA class actions.

We understand how expensive it can be for clients to defend against ERISA claims and lawsuits, with allegations often going back over a decade. Our collaborative, multidisciplinary team takes a comprehensive approach to minimizing the risk and cost of litigation or regulatory action through plan drafting, guidance and counsel.


Name Title Office Email
Partner Atlanta
Associate Los Angeles
Partner Cleveland
Partner Atlanta
Partner Atlanta
Partner Los Angeles
Partner San Francisco
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cincinnati
Partner Cleveland
Partner Dallas
Associate Cleveland
Associate Cleveland
Associate Seattle
Partner Cleveland


  • Obtained summary judgement for a gas distributor involved in a severance case in Wyoming federal court.
  • Brought, and settled, a declaratory judgment case against the Florida Department of Insurance to stave off enforcement actions brought against a multiple employer welfare arrangement and its promoters.
  • Successfully defended a Missouri-based insurance broker against attempts by the US Department of Labor to put it out of business for alleged violations of ERISA.
  • Successfully defended an ERISA group health plan and its sponsor in a high-profile coverage denial case involving a drunk driver, first in federal district court and then on appeal (Eleventh Circuit).
  • Successfully defended a company in a suit brought against it by its former CEO, seeking to hold it liable for substantial IRS penalties the CEO incurred under a failed deferred compensation plan.
  • Defended a for-profit hospital chain sued by a receiver after it purchased two hospitals from a Catholic diocese, with respect to the church plan status of a severely underfunded pension plan.
  • Obtained dismissal of a class litigation involving approximately 1,000 potential class members alleging unlawful implementation of caps on employer contributions toward retiree health insurance premiums. Affirmed on appeal before the 6th Circuit.
  • Represented a tire company in a class action brought by 3,500 collectively bargained retirees from plants in Alabama, Indiana and Wisconsin. The plaintiffs asserted breaches of collective bargaining agreements and ERISA resulting from changes made to retiree medical benefits. The case was ultimately won at trial before an Alabama jury in a defense verdict holding the retirees’ rights were not vested. Proceedings in the case resulted in multiple reported decisions.
  • In a precedent-setting case, attorneys 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 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 the sale of a plant 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 a major manufacturer and its operating 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 a class action against a significant technology company 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 would be adversely affected and claimed that the failure to properly classify employees for overtime purposes amounted to a breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a former plan trustee of an employee stock ownership plan and trust, relating to a compensation agreement that trustee had entered into with a family member prior to sale of the company to employees.
  • Have represented plan fiduciaries in disputes with the Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration.
  • Have represented plan administrators and plan beneficiaries in disputes regarding plan benefits.
  • Have represented plan administrators in “top hat” executive compensation benefit disputes.
  • Have represented third-party COBRA administrators in numerous actions brought under ERISA.

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