ERISA Litigation

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) governs employee benefit plans of private employers. Businesses and plan fiduciaries must keep pace with emerging ERISA amendments, regulations and court cases, all of which can impose complex compliance obligations and increase the risk of liability for benefit claims, claims for breach of fiduciary duty, and high-stakes class action litigation.

McGuireWoods’ ERISA litigation practice combines extensive ERISA and executive compensation knowledge with a deep bench of experienced litigation, labor relations and trial lawyers. We understand the technical fields critical to success in benefits and executive compensation litigation, including ERISA, tax, corporate and securities regulations, and have extensive experience in class action litigation and large-scale electronic discovery.

Our ERISA litigation team is drawn from McGuireWoods’ employee benefits, labor and employment, corporate finance and commercial litigation groups. Our litigation capabilities are enhanced by our direct experience representing and negotiating with financial institutions, insurers and other key service providers.

Our strong labor relations team maintains an active practice focused on arbitration and litigation of collectively bargained benefits claims, including retiree health care, shutdown pensions, downsizing claims, controversies regarding multi-employer plan withdrawal liability and contributions, and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charges relating to benefits.

We regularly handle executive compensation claims involving ERISA top hat plans, change in control agreements, and stock option and equity claims. We have successfully defended employers and insurers against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges relating to benefits issues, including charges of alleged discrimination in benefit terms concerning the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Experience

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Various Companies

    We have represented several companies in contested matters with the PBGC in federal district court, in bankruptcy court, and before the PBGC Appeals Board, challenging claims for unfunded benefit liabilities, claims for “cessation of operations” liability under ERISA 4062(e), and other matters.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Plan administrator

    Obtained summary judgment for plan administrator in court’s ruling that the administrator did not abuse its discretion in determining that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition rendering him ineligible for long-term disability benefits.

  • CASE STUDY

    Finkl team wins ERISA anti-cutback case in 7th Circuit

    McGuireWoods represented the pension plan of A. Finkl & Sons Company in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in a lawsuit claiming that the pension plan had violated ERISA's anti-cutback rule and the terms of the pension plan. The plaintiffs claimed that Finkl had an obligation to terminate the pension plan and provide annuities to the plaintiffs while the plaintiffs were still working for the company. The Court of Appeals, affirming the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, found that Finkl had no obligation to terminate the pension plan and that the plaintiffs' ERISA rights were not violated.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Fortune 300 mutual life insurance company

    Member of national litigation counsel panel for Fortune 300 mutual life insurance company's ERISA and individual disability policy lawsuits.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Large European based electronic and electrical engineering company

    Representation of large European based electronic and electrical engineering company in ERISA benefits case. The former employee alleged that our client violated ERISA by improperly calculating his benefits under a special type of pension plan known as a “top hat plan,” available only to senior executives. The dispute centered on the former executive’s years of credited service, the amount of the employee’s average compensation and the amount of an offset for an early distribution the executive took from his pension before he retired. Achieved a full defense verdict following a bench trial. The court found for our client on all disputed areas regarding the benefit calculation.

Team Leaders

Full Team
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