Overview

Chelsea Ashbrook McCarthy is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Chicago office and a member of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution group. Ms. McCarthy focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation and litigation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

Ms. McCarthy's experience includes defending plan sponsors of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), company boards of directors, selling shareholders, and fiduciaries in ERISA putative class actions involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty and engaging in prohibited transactions. She also represents clients in regulatory investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for alleged violations of ERISA.

In her commercial litigation practice, Ms. McCarthy represents clients in a wide array of complex financial services issues. She routinely represents lenders in complex commercial foreclosures, breach of guaranty and lender liability matters. Ms. McCarthy also represents companies and individuals in the prosecution and defense of restrictive covenant and trade secret claims. She has both successfully prevailed on, and defended against, claims for emergency and preliminary injunctive relief. Ms. McCarthy's experience also includes commercial real estate litigation, ranging from commercial lease disputes to title claims. She also represents clients in matters involving shareholder and fiduciary issues and insurance coverage.

Ms. McCarthy represents clients at the trial and appellate levels and has tried cases to verdict in state and federal court. She is a member of the trial bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Ms. McCarthy is an active community volunteer and serves as a member of the board of directors of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. She also coordinates Holland & Knight's participation in providing pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence at the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. McCarthy clerked for the Honorable Richard L. Young in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Experience

  • Defense of a company, directors and trustee in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) putative class action against claims for breach of fiduciary duty and engaging in prohibited transactions arising out of a $200 million employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction
  • Defense of ERISA action brought by an ESOP administrative committee on behalf of plan participants against fiduciaries, directors and plan advisors for claimed loss of more than $50 million to the plan arising from alleged breach of fiduciary duty and related state law claims
  • Defense of companies and plan service providers in investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for alleged violations of ERISA
  • Defense of a company in challenge to an ESOP purchase transaction brought by an objecting minority shareholder
  • Defense of a company and plan sponsor against multiple claims for benefits by former executives under supplemental compensation plan

  • Prosecution of complex foreclosures of commercial properties and residential developments on behalf of lenders, successfully reaching resolutions maximizing recovery to lenders
  • Defense of commercial lenders in broad range of lender liability disputes, including claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of contract and violation of usury laws
  • Representation of commercial lenders in disputes regarding breach of loan documents and preparation of workout strategies
  • Defense of a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company in a putative class action involving claims of consumer fraud and violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), successfully defeating class certification and obtaining a complete defense verdict at trial
  • Defense of a Fortune 500 company in claims asserting violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and state consumer fraud statute

  • Representation of building products distributor in multistate litigation against former company executives, employees and new employer for claims of breach of noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements and theft of trade secrets
  • Defense of logistics company and employees against request for preliminary and emergency injunctive relief by competitor for claimed violations of noncompetition agreements and theft of confidential information
  • Prosecution of request for an emergency injunctive relief on behalf of a financial advisory company against a former employee for violation of noncompetition agreement
  • Representation of a financial services firm in a successful pre-litigation resolution of a restrictive covenant dispute

  • Prosecution of breach of fiduciary duty and oppression claims on behalf of a non-controlling shareholder of a multimillion-dollar, closely held company
  • Representation of a Fortune 500 company and subsidiary in a minority shareholder dispute relating to a spinoff of the subsidiary
  • Defense of minority shareholders in buyout dispute with a former employer
  • Defense of a company in challenge to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) purchase transaction brought by an objecting minority shareholder

  • Defense of a property preservation company in putative class action against claims for trespass and violation of Chicago's Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO), successfully defeating class certification and obtaining a complete defense verdict at trial
  • Defense of a real estate data analytics company in claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) over collection and use of county property records
  • Defense of commercial property owners in prosecution of commercial evictions against defaulting tenants
  • Defense of property owners in quiet title matters arising from disputes relating to property title

Credentials

Education
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S., Finance, with high honors
  • St. Louis University School of Law, J.D.
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Illinois
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Tax Court
Memberships
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • ESOP Association, Legal and Regulatory Committee Member
Honors & Awards
  • Excellence in Pro Bono Service, Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter, 2018
  • Emerging Lawyer, Leading Lawyers, 2015-2017
  • Domestic Violence Legal Clinic Honoree, 2015
  • Holland & Knight National Brightest Star Award, 2014
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2010-2013, 2016 

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News