ERISA, ESOP and Employee Benefits Litigation

  • Holland & Knight's experienced trial attorneys routinely handle litigation arising out of retirement and health and welfare benefit plans throughout the United States.
  • Our diverse and collective experience includes defending a significant number of class actions and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement actions.
  • In addition to our extensive litigation experience, our lawyers have also represented numerous plan sponsors and trustees in a variety of DOL, IRS and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation investigations in a wide range of industries.
Word Cloud ERISA Class Action

Overview

Holland & Knight's ERISA, ESOP and Employee Benefits Litigation Team represents plan sponsors, trustees, plan administrators, investment managers, investment advisors, other plan fiduciaries, insurers and service providers in all aspects of Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and employee benefits litigation across the United States. 

Our diverse and collective experience includes defending a significant number of class actions and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement actions alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, ERISA-prohibited transactions, and other statutory or common law violations. Our trial experienced attorneys routinely handle complex litigation arising out of retirement and health and welfare benefit plans brought by plan participants, medical providers, the DOL or plan fiduciaries, as well as Affordable Care Act (ACA) issues. Our ERISA, ESOP and Employee Benefits Litigation Team is skilled at managing every step in the litigation process and does so with a focus on collaboration, efficiency and obtaining the best possible results for our clients.

In addition to our extensive litigation experience, we have also represented hundreds of plan sponsors and trustees in a variety of DOL, IRS and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation investigations. Our experiences spans a wide range of industries, including the financial services, insurance, healthcare and transportation sectors. 

Our litigation team includes former federal clerks and the former Associate Solicitor for Plan Benefits Security at the DOL, and our attorneys have been recognized individually by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 USA, Law360, Who's Who Legal, Lawdragon and Super Lawyers

The litigation team is supported by a highly experienced multidisciplinary team of lawyers who counsel clients on qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, including 401(k) profit-sharing plans and ESOPs, and provide advice on plan structuring, plan asset investments, executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, fiduciary responsibilities and best practices, and the investigation of fraudulent schemes in the healthcare industry.

Experience

  • Defense of a putative class action lawsuit filed against the plan sponsor of an ESOP, its board of directors, and other alleged fiduciaries accused of violating ERISA in connection with the termination of the ESOP in 2017, the redemption of the ESOP's stock in 2017, the distribution of benefits to ESOP participants, and the sale of the plan sponsor's assets to a private equity group
  • Obtained landmark settlement in putative ERISA class action against an ESOP in which the trial court ultimately certified a non-opt out class action and dismissed all class members' claims with prejudice and without defendants paying anything of value to absent class members or plaintiff's counsel
  • Representation of institutional trustees in class actions in which plaintiffs alleged that the trustee caused the ESOP to pay more than adequate consideration for shares of the company in a multistage transaction
  • Representation of members of board of directors of a major sugar corporation and certain other defendants in four putative ERISA and shareholder class actions, winning summary judgment on all but one claim and settling the remainder of the case on very favorable terms for the clients
  • Representation of company and plan sponsor in case involving both ERISA and securities fraud claims brought by the former CFO of the company seeking damages in excess of $2.1 million arising out of his sale of both plan and non-plan stock; after a multiweek trial, our team received a complete defense verdict that was later upheld on appeal
  • Representation of plan sponsor in action brought by six former participants seeking damages on behalf of an employee stock bonus plan in excess of $40 million, prevailing on a motion that disallowed the plaintiffs to proceed absent certifying a class action and convinced the court that plaintiffs could not proceed on behalf of the entire plan or absent plan participants; successfully achieved dismissal of all but one plaintiff and negotiated a favorable settlement with the final plaintiff on an individual basis
  • Defense of ERISA action brought by ESOP retirement plan on behalf of plan participants against fiduciaries, company directors and service providers alleging claims for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA and state law claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation arising out of bankrupt company's ESOP claiming losses in excess of $50 million to the plan
  • Defense of plan sponsor, board of directors and trustee in putative ERISA class action lawsuit arising out of $200 million ESOP transaction in which the primary allegations included claims for breach of fiduciary duty, engaging in a prohibited transaction and failing to monitor appointees
  • Defense of a putative class action lawsuit filed against the plan sponsor of an ESOP, its board of directors, institutional trustee and selling shareholders accused of violating ERISA in connection with the formation of an ESOP and first-phase transaction based on the alleged failure to provide accurate financial information and properly value the company's shares for the transaction
  • Defense of individual trustee in a putative class action lawsuit filed against the plan sponsor of an ESOP, its board of directors, individual trustee and selling shareholders accused of violating ERISA in connection with a second-stage transaction based on the alleged failure to identify accounting irregularities that the plaintiffs alleged resulted in the ESOP paying more than adequate consideration for the company's shares in the second-stage transaction

  • Defense of insurance company issuer of 401(k) platforms in nationwide putative class actions challenging the fee structure of thousands of 401(k) plans; after a two-week trial, the lawsuit settled on favorable terms
  • Defense of corporate plan sponsors of large 401(k) plans in multiple ERISA class action lawsuits challenging the reasonableness of fees, expenses and investment options associated with 401(k) and 403(b) plans and seeking hundreds of millions in damages
  • Representation of a leading national mobile communications provider in 401(k) litigation in which the plaintiffs alleged that the plan's selected provider charged excessive fees and offered underperforming investment options

  • Defense of large financial institutions in lawsuits challenging 401(k) plans' offering of proprietary mutual fund products
  • Representation of financial services institution in ERISA plan class action involving the alleged improper offering of insurance product
  • Defense of life insurance companies in nationwide ERISA class actions against claims of breach of fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions in a recent wave of attack on stable value investment options offered by insurance companies in 401(k) and 403(b) plans; our team successfully achieved early dismissals and settlement of the lawsuits
  • Representation of financial services institution in an ERISA plan class action involving alleged failure to divest plan of company securities; the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed after class certification was denied

  • Defense of client against claims involving over 3,000 patients and more than $15 million in damages that it systematically under-reimbursed providers of emergency medical services to client's insureds on an out-of-network basis; our team achieved an early settlement on very favorable terms
  • Representation of managed care organization in multiple lawsuits and arbitrations filed by providers alleging that the client under-reimbursed providers for out-of-network emergency medical benefits provided to thousands of patients
  • Representation of multiple clients, as well as their medical benefits plans, against ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA benefits and California unfair competition claims arising out of the plans' denial or partial denial of claims for services provided by out-of-network medical providers
  • Defense of insurance companies in class action lawsuits challenging the methods and amounts of payment of health insurance claims, including claims brought by medical providers with purported "assignments" from plan participants and claims regarding the calculation of service provider expenses, including disputed calculations of usual, customary and reasonable medical reimbursements
  • Defense of insurance company in ERISA class action brought on behalf of all claimants denied long-term disability benefits; successfully opposed class certification and class-wide discovery, and secured a favorable settlement on the remaining individual claim
  • Defense of national airline against an ERISA class action alleging multiple benefits and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising out of the company's administration of its medical benefits plan and the plan's reimbursement of out-of-network medical expenses
  • Defense of claims administrators and insurers against ERISA claims brought as mass actions relating to recovery of plan benefits, fiduciary duty claims, other ERISA statutory violations and claims handling procedures
  • Prosecution of civil claims on behalf of large insurance companies and claims administrators against entities and individuals engaged in complex and large-scale fraudulent schemes in the healthcare industry
  • Litigation of claims seeking relief under ERISA, as well as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, in which our team successfully secured dismissal of all claims on a motion to dismiss
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of complaint alleging various ERISA claims in favor of nation's largest claims administrator against behavioral health facility
  • Defense of claims administrator against out-of-network health system in which the health system sought to recover more than $22 million in benefits from the administrator in multiple actions; obtained a complete victory for the administrator
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of claims administrators and plan sponsors in numerous benefit actions filed by plan members or their beneficiaries, with multiple decisions affirmed on appeal

  • Defense of individual and multi-plaintiff claims litigation against plan fiduciaries and insurance companies seeking long-term disability, severance and pension benefits
  • Defense of plan sponsors and fiduciaries in retiree medical class action litigation
  • Defense of life insurance company against ERISA nationwide class action challenging the long-standing practice of using retained asset accounts for payment of life insurance benefits in which plaintiffs sought multimillion-dollar disgorgement of profits
  • Representation of multiple employers in various class action in which the plaintiffs asserted that the employers' COBRA enrollment and eligibility notices failed to comply with DOL regulations
  • Defense of employers in connection with withdrawal liability and issues related to collective bargaining

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