Spencer Fane attorneys serve as zealous advocates for employers, fiduciaries, trustees, and other benefits providers facing ERISA disputes. Our team provides clients with innovative and practical solutions that yield significant cost savings and recoveries while focusing equal attention on the need to protect their employment culture and business reputation.
Benefit plan sponsors and service providers hire Spencer Fane based on its long history of successfully counseling companies in ERISA matters, providing resources that allow them to move beyond the litigation and preserve the integrity of their business. The firm’s track record includes successful representation of companies in benefits disputes prior to the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 — now known as ERISA. The practice has evolved to include the ability to handle the prosecution and defense of individual and class-action lawsuits alleging breaches of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction rules; challenges to plan denials of claims for benefits; actions related to the investment of retirement plan assets; delinquent contribution and withdrawal liability claims under multi-employer plans; and claims involving retiree medical obligations.
Our team’s cross-discipline experience gives our clients access to the most qualified attorneys for each litigation matter. The firm prioritizes partnering the ERISA Litigation group with attorneys in the Employee Benefits, Health Care, and Litigation and Dispute Resolution practices throughout the firm’s footprint to match the strategy to the client’s unique objectives.
Leaders of our ERISA Litigation practice have cultivated deserved reputations as thought leaders in the field. Our attorneys are regularly called upon to speak at conferences, seminars and CLE events throughout the nation, advising the legal industry as well as employers and service providers on best practices related to ERISA compliance.
Our ERISA Litigation experience includes:
- Thanks to a strategy developed by our ERISA Litigation Group, we defeated an ERISA claim by a health care provider who had made a cottage industry out of suing employers’ health plans after providing medical treatment to their employees. Not satisfied with the amount the plans paid for the procedures, this provider routinely brought ERISA claims challenging how those amounts were established. Rather than waiting for the provider to sue, we filed a declaratory judgment action. Ultimately, the court ruled in our favor on novel jurisdictional issues, and the provider agreed to drop its challenge.
- Successfully defended a client in a lawsuit challenging the denial of COBRA coverage to participants in its health plan. The court’s order granting our motion to dismiss established new, employer-friendly precedent in the process.
- Secured a major victory in a case arising from a bankruptcy. After the company allegedly failed to transfer the assets necessary to fund the VEBA of a former subsidiary, a group of participants in the new plan — along with the new plan’s trustee and the new plan sponsor’s administrative committee — sued the plan’s trustee to compel a transfer of the disputed VEBA assets. Spencer Fane argued that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue fiduciaries of the plan, and the federal district court dismissed all of the claims.