Practice Areas
Practice Areas

ERISA Litigation

Practice Leaders: Matthew V. DelDuca

Related links:
Labor and Employment Practice
Employee Benefits Practice
Commercial Litigation Practice

Employees and beneficiaries increasingly are suing their employers and employee benefits plans for alleged breaches of fiduciary duties, benefits, and other alleged violations of ERISA. Pepper Hamilton LLP has a long history of representing employers and benefits plans in such complex class, collective and individual litigation.

To meet these changing and often overlapping claims, lawyers in Pepper’s ERISA Litigation Group combine the experience, knowledge and abilities of the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment, and Employee Benefits Practice Groups to represent employers, fiduciary liability and plan insurers, service providers, multiemployer plan trustees and plan sponsors in all types of litigation arising from employment benefits.

Pepper lawyers handle all aspects of ERISA litigation, including benefits claims, breach of fiduciary duty claims, discrimination claims and issues relating to preemption, qualified and non-qualified benefit plans, prohibited transactions, executive compensation, IRAs, ESOPs, profit-sharing, 401(k) plans and multiemployer plans, and withdrawal liability. We are experienced with cafeteria, dependent care assistance, fringe benefit and voluntary employees’ benefits association plans.

Our lawyers also handle compliance assistance, counseling, DOL and PBGC investigations, dispute resolution before various government agencies, audits of health, welfare and pension benefit plans, cost containment and representation of clients before the legislative and executive branches.

Our ERISA litigators regularly appear in federal district courts, courts of appeals and state courts in all jurisdictions, handling the defense of class and representative actions and multi-district litigation matters, as well as individual and multiple-plaintiff actions. Recognizing that a litigation “victory” may not always be consistent with a “winning” business solution, lawyers in our ERISA Litigation Group use the litigation environment to help each client achieve its desired business objectives.

Representative Engagements

Recent engagements representative of Pepper’s ERISA practice include representing:

  • after asserting in an answer to an ERISA claim that a purported severance plan was not governed by ERISA, successfully obtaining an order for court-appointed mediation, where we were able to secure settlement of the ERISA claim, brought against an educational institution, for less than the amount originally offered by the client before the lawsuit was brought
  • at a bench trial, we successfully defended an actuarial firm from indemnification for an ERISA class action settlement paid by its former client, a department store chain, that had been sued by a class of plan participants for alleged underpayments in termination of their pension plan
  • defeated collective action certification in an age discrimination action challenging a client’s operation of a stock-option plan
  • obtained dismissal for a major health care network and related entities in putative collective and class action cases alleging violations of the FLSA and state wage and hour claims, as well as a putative class action alleging violations of RICO and ERISA based on the network’s use of an automatic meal break deduction timekeeping system
  • defended the retirement plan of a leading chemical and specialty materials company against a putative class action asserting that the plan violates the “anti-cut back rule” because retirees who opt to receive their benefit in the form of an annuity receive a cost of living adjustment, however, employees who take their pension in a lump sum do not receive the actuarial equivalent of the COLA
  • secured summary judgment in putative ERISA class action alleging that client’s pension plan violated ERISA benefit accrual rules and age discrimination prohibitions
  • successful settlement of a major manufacturing company in an ERISA case filed by seven former employees who claimed they were terminated to deprive them of ERISA-protected benefits
  • successful representation of a major orthopedic care provider in an ERISA claim by a former employee who was denied long-term disability benefits based on the provider’s alleged negligence in failing to reenroll her when it changed insurance programs, (E.D. Pa.); summary judgment was granted and the case was settled on appeal
  • successful representation of ERISA plan in a case involving a subordination of benefits stemming from conflicting coordination of benefits/subordination provisions contained in an ERISA covered employee health plan and a no-fault automobile insurance policy; case was dismissed at summary judgment
  • successful settlement involving a dispute over payments made under an employee health plan
  • defended a defined contribution plan and plan trustees against a putative ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty regarding plan investment in company stock
  • numerous clients against claims for benefits, including a major automobile manufacturer’s health benefits program in a subrogation matter
  • a large consulting company in benefits and breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • an employer’s group disability plan in an action challenging an insurer’s denial of benefits
  • an insurance company against claims brought by medical providers to recover unpaid medical bills to group health plan participants
  • numerous clients against withdrawal liability claims
  • numerous clients in issues relating to top-hat plans.

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