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ERISA Litigation


Spencer Fane has represented employers, fiduciaries, trustees, and other benefits providers since before the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).  From routine disputes involving claims for benefits, to complex class-action excessive fee and employer stock cases, our ERISA Litigation Team provides sophisticated representation in a cost-effective manner.  Our substantial experience and technical knowledge enable us to bring concentrated resources and practical considerations to bear for our clients. We successfully fashion innovative and practical solutions that yield significant cost savings and recoveries for our clients.

Team Approach

We use a “team” approach to maximize our effectiveness.  On each case, ERISA litigators partner with members of the firm’s Employee Benefits Team.  Working together, we are able to identify and take advantage of claims and defenses that are hidden within the minutiae of ERISA and the Tax Code.

Benefits Litigation

We have prosecuted and defended a wide variety of claims related to benefit plans, including excessive fee cases; individual and class-action lawsuits alleging breaches of ERISA’s fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction rules; challenges to plan denials of claims for benefits; actions challenging the investment of retirement plan assets; delinquent contribution and withdrawal liability claims arising under multiemployer plans; and claims involving retiree medical obligations.

Our experience includes:

Excessive Fee Claims – Our ERISA Litigation Team has successfully defended retirement plan fiduciaries and service providers in cases challenging the fees assessed to 401(k) plan participants.

Investment Fund Challenges – We have represented investment fund managers, advisers, and other fiduciaries who were accused of imprudently managing plan assets in violation of ERISA’s standards.

Other Fiduciary Duty Claims – We have defended numerous claims alleging that our clients breached their obligations as plan fiduciaries, within ERISA’s special definition of that term, resolving many of those claims on pre-trial motions.

Health Plan Claims – Spencer Fane ERISA Litigation attorneys have defended health plan fiduciaries, third-party administrators, and insurers whose actions were challenged under ERISA, COBRA, the ADA, and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Claims for Benefits – Our attorneys have established a record of resolving challenges to benefit denials before trial, reducing our clients’ legal fees.

Employer Stock Claims – Spencer Fane attorneys served as local counsel in one of the largest employer stock cases in the country, and as lead counsel in the principal case addressing the responsibilities of directed trustees.

Claims Arising out of Reductions in Force – We prevailed at both the trial and appellate court levels on multi-plaintiff claims under Section 510 of ERISA, alleging that our client interfered with the benefit rights of employees who were terminated during a reduction in force.

Claims in the Bankruptcy Context – Our ERISA litigators work closely with the firm’s bankruptcy attorneys on ERISA claims arising out of corporate insolvencies.