The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is one of the nation’s most complex pieces of legislation. At the same time, retirement benefits account for a significant portion of employers’ personnel-related expenditures. As a result, ERISA disputes are among the most frequently litigated and financially risky areas of employee benefits law. To minimize the likelihood of disputes and to quickly resolve cases in a manner that reduces or eliminates potential liabilities, clients need legal advisors with deep experience in the application of this often-misunderstood law.
McDermott’s benefits lawyers have extensive experience in a wide variety of litigation and administrative proceedings involving employee benefit plans. We regularly represent employers (and plan sponsors and plan administrators), as well as individual and corporate fiduciaries and service providers, in routine and complex employee benefits/ERISA litigation. We are approved by numerous fiduciary liability carriers to provide defense for their insureds. In addition to litigating employee benefits cases, we counsel large and small companies and fiduciaries in anticipation of litigation about employee benefits issues.
Year after year, our ERISA litigation practice been nationally ranked in Chambers USA, whose editors recently noted that we are “adept in acting for clients with respect to the full spectrum of litigation and administrative proceedings connected to benefits plans.” A number of our lawyers have also been named top legal advisors by U.S. News-Best Lawyers and The Legal 500.
Our ERISA litigators have significant experience handling employee benefits class action litigation in courts throughout the United States. Our ERISA litigators have extensive procedural and substantive experience in benefits litigation; they are not benefits lawyers dragged into litigation or litigators who occasionally handle a benefits case. In handling benefits litigation, we work closely with our Employee Benefits Group, which has dozens of lawyers focused solely on this area in one of the largest employee benefits practices in the United States.
We represent clients before federal and state agencies and regularly negotiate effective settlements to a broad range of ERISA-related disputes. Among recent matters, we successfully challenged an assessment of withdrawal liability under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act (MPPAA) upon the sale of a company’s assets, resulting in a favorable ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and defended a “parent” company in federal court against claims involving the MPAA obligations of a bankrupt affiliate, settling the matter for a fraction of the amount claimed. We also represented the former chairman of an international biotechnology manufacturer a dispute involving alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Our ERISA litigation team includes members of McDermott’s highly regarded appellate group. Together, we have successfully handled hundreds of appeals at every level of federal and state appellate courts. Among the numerous ERISA appeals that we have argued and defended, we secured a victory before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in high-profile litigation for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company against the State of Vermont, challenging a state regulation requiring the disclosure of individuals’ private and confidential medical claims history from health insurers within the state. In another matter, we successfully defended a class action, challenging exclusion of certain pay from pension calculations for 18,000 retirees, before the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
We represent employers, sponsors, insurers, service providers, plan administrators, trustees and other plan fiduciaries in a broad range of ERISA claims disputes involving employee and retiree health, pension and other benefits. Among the broad range of issues under dispute, we have defended clients in matters involving severance-plan terms, age discrimination in cash-balance pension plans, stock investments and business performance, plan liquidity and plan asset values, reductions and terminations of retiree medical benefits, blackout periods, plan administration and plan eligibility. We represent clients in federal courts across the country and negotiate favorable settlements with government agencies such as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.