ERISA Litigation

Trends & Insights

News coverage of the current administration’s enforcement of immigration policies has demanded the attention of the entire country. It should therefore come as no surprise that this issue has permeated every corner of the legal world, and the law governing retirement plans is no exception. What may come as a surprise given the prevalence and immediacy of this issue is the lack of clear guidance on the impact of unauthorized workers on employer sponsored retirement…
The Department of Labor (DOL) has made it no secret that it actively engages in enforcement activities against employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) with a particular focus on the valuation of the stock of privately held companies that is held or bought by the ESOP.[1] The valuation of the company stock is important to the DOL because the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) includes provisions to allow an ESOP to purchase…
“Wilderness therapy? What’s that?” That’s the common response I receive when I mention that wilderness therapy is a hot topic in mental health parity litigation. Wilderness therapy is a form of residential treatment that uses nature and the outdoors as a therapeutic tool.   Often used with operationally-defiant or drug-addicted teens, wilderness therapy combines traditional therapy with outdoor activities. A number of lawsuits have been brought over the last year, alleging that group health plans have…
The University of Pennsylvania suffered a setback in the first ERISA fee case against a university to be decided by a U.S. Court of Appeals. In Sweda v. the University of Pennsylvania, a divided panel of the Third Circuit ruled 2-1 that the district court had erred in granting the university’s motion to dismiss.  A copy of the opinion is attached here. The plaintiffs alleged that, among other things, the fiduciaries of the university’s…
The Supreme Court decisions in Dudenhoeffer (2014) and Amgen (2016) made it more difficult, as a practical matter, for plaintiffs to bring ERISA duty of prudence claims involving employer stock. In the ensuing years, every stock drop complaint filed by ERISA plan participants around the country was dismissed for failure to allege facts satisfying Dudenhoeffer – until defendants’ winning streak was broken in December 2018. In Jander v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, 910…
Plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a series of cases challenging the lawfulness of the actuarial assumptions used in certain defined benefit retirement plans.  The seventh such case was filed on May 20, 2019 in the Eastern District of Virginia. All seven complaints are based on the same general theories and the same specific claims for relief under ERISA.  In general, plaintiffs allege the plan fiduciaries of a defined benefit plan fail to pay alternative forms of…