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Overview

Since 1974, when Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (commonly known as ERISA), Calfee lawyers have counseled clients regarding various related litigation issues. Because ERISA governs myriad types of employee benefit plans including pension, profit sharing, 401(k), ESOP, life insurance, long- and short-term disability, medical expense reimbursement, health care, and severance, our lawyers’ experiences in this regard are diverse.

We have represented plan sponsors and administrators, third-party administrators, claims administrators, plan fiduciaries, trustees, participants, beneficiaries and non-fiduciary plan service providers in connection with ERISA litigation matters.

Our services have included the prosecution and defense of claims for breach of ERISA fiduciary duties, benefit denial claims, prohibited transaction claims, subrogation claims and ERISA Section 510 discrimination claims. We have handled ERISA matters in federal and state courts. We also have counseled clients with respect to Department of Labor investigations and Internal Revenue Service proceedings relating to ERISA.

We also have advised clients with respect to litigation trends associated with ERISA-related issues, including monitoring plan investments and fees as well as litigation risks arising out of ESOP transactions.

Given ERISA’s comprehensive and constantly evolving nature, it is often unclear whether and how ERISA applies to a particular situation. Because the rules and procedures applicable to litigation under ERISA frequently differ from those applicable to non-ERISA litigation (and many times in an advantageous way for a plan sponsor or fiduciary), it is important for any business or person that is involved with an employee benefit plan to understand ERISA’s scope and effect.

Noteworthy

Chambers USA Band 3 Ranking in Litigation: General Commercial (Ohio)

For well over a decade, our Litigation group and individual litigation attorneys have been ranked and recognized by Chambers USA. In 2021, Chambers USA researchers noted that the team "Frequently advises on plaintiff and defense-side commercial litigation matters, offering considerable strengths in securities, product liability, antitrust and construction disputes. Also offers experience in criminal litigation, defending a range of individuals and businesses facing regulatory enforcement actions. Acts for clients in sectors including healthcare, financial services and manufacturing." 

A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers commented, "The entire team provides outstanding legal services." Another adds, "The team as a whole is fantastic."

Litigation practice Co-Chair, Christopher S. Williams, has been ranked by Chambers USA 2021 in Band 3 for Litigation: General Commercial in Ohio. A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers remarked, "He is the ultimate relationship partner." Another client said, "[Chris is a] phenomenal lawyer."

Chambers USA Band 2 Ranking in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Ohio)

Calfee's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group is consistently recognized by Chambers USA. Most recently, Calfee was ranked in 2021 in Band 2 for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation.

Chambers USA researchers stated the team is a "Respected group that works with a range of clients, including nonprofit organizations, public entities and private corporations. Noted capabilities in ESOPs, ERISA litigation and M&A-related issues. Well equipped to advise clients on compliance with fiduciary rules and other regulations." A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers commented, "[My company] is extremely satisfied with the work [Calfee] has done for us. They are thorough, creative and responsive." Another source reported, "I have been impressed by the team and have strong confidence in its work and capabilities. I value responsiveness, and they have delivered that on a consistent basis. They display very strong knowledge of the matters in which I have involved them." One interviewee highlighted the practice's "strong knowledge of benefit plans and amazing ability to link things together."

In the Chambers USA 2020 guide, one client commented that "They're trusted partners who are fantastic and cost effective and their guidance is always top-tier, on point, calculated and strategic." Another commentator stated, "Their strength is their knowledge of ERISA, employee benefits and our plans; they always make time for our team, no matter how much we throw at them, they always get it done."

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice Chair, Robert A. Miller, was ranked by Chambers USA 2021 in Band 2. A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers relayed, "[Bob] is very knowledgeable and provides practical advice." In the Chambers USA 2020 guide, a commentator noted, "[He] is very knowledgeable and helpful in identifying solutions to complex problems. He always makes himself available and is thorough in all his work."

Partner Steven W. Day was ranked by Chambers USA 2021 in Band 3. A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers appreciates Steve's "level of performance, advice, diligence and historical knowledge of our plans." In the Chambers USA 2020 guide, he is noted as an attorney who "works the timelines very well, gets [us] good work product, and meets [my] expectations every time."

U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion in the 2022 "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in the following areas:

  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (Regional Tier 1 Cleveland)
  • Litigation – ERISA (National Tier 2, Regional Tier 1 Cleveland)

Benchmark Litigation Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion by Benchmark Litigation 2022 as a Highly Recommended Law Firm in Dispute Resolution and as a Recommended Law Firm in Labor and Employment Litigation in Ohio. Additionally, 14 of Calfee's Litigation attorneys have been ranked by Benchmark Litigation as "Local Litigation Stars in Ohio" and as “40 & Under Hot List Honorees in the Midwest.”

Professionals

Experience

Experience

  • Defended plan sponsor and fiduciaries against class action alleging claims for breaches of the duties of prudence and loyalty based upon allegations that fiduciaries allowed plan participants to invest in employer stock.
  • In 2013, while representing the public company employer, obtained a federal court preliminary injunction freezing the current and prospective assets of all four adverse parties in a multi-million-dollar ERISA healthcare benefits dispute arising from the mismanagement and underfunding of welfare plans.
  • Following extensive fact and expert discovery and summary judgment briefing before the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, favorably settled, in 2011, ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims filed by the bankruptcy trustee on behalf of an insolvent public company against its former officers and directors.
  • In 2010, following oral argument, obtained affirmation from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of a summary judgment award in an ERISA case involving Plan Administrator discretion, the appropriate standard of appellate review and the interplay between written Plan terms and alleged conflicting oral representations.
  • In 2009, finalized a $27 million settlement against an international financial adviser arising out of the Calfee pension plan client’s losses due to investments made in Bernard Madoff-related funds.
  • In 2009, on cross-motions for summary judgment filed after three days of evidentiary hearing, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the administration of a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
  • In 2008, appeared in Dayton federal court for a class-action fairness hearing and reached an agreement to settle on favorable terms ERISA and RICO class-action claims arising from pension plan consulting and actuarial services.
  • Arguing ERISA preemption and standing issues before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005, obtained judgment affirming the Louisiana district court’s summary judgment on behalf of three clients. The companies had been sued in Louisiana state court for $2.4 million, arising from their alleged violations of Louisiana’s bad faith insurance statute.
  • In 2005, obtained an American Arbitration Association award on behalf of Ohio’s largest Medicaid healthcare provider following state court litigation and a multi-day arbitration hearing arising from Medicaid billing fraud and breach of contract allegations against the client.

Services

Services

  • Employee benefits claims (administrative proceedings and litigation)
  • Breach of fiduciary liability claims
  • Prohibited transaction claims
  • Excessive fee claims
  • Stock drop claims
  • ESOP litigation
  • Class action litigation
  • Appellate litigation
  • Discrimination claims under ERISA Section 510
  • Multi-employer withdrawal liability claims
  • ERISA-related bankruptcy issues
  • Department of Labor proceedings
  • COBRA claims

Client Feedback

Client Feedback

"Calfee has a world class Employee Benefits (ERISA) group. I work with many law firms as an institutional advisor, and Calfee is clearly among the best."

– Calfee client, as reported by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” rankings report


"Calfee, Halter & Griswold's Employee Benefits team is excellent. They have assisted me in providing advice to our various lines of business, which are affected by ERISA and other employee benefits laws. They are prompt with and practical in their advice."

– Calfee client, as reported by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” rankings report


"Calfee, Halter & Griswold is very knowledgeable on the technical aspects of ERISA."

– Calfee client, as reported by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” rankings report

News & Events

News

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"The entire team provides outstanding legal services. The team as a whole is fantastic."

Client comments from the Chambers USA 2021 Guide

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