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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.


Chambers USA Leading Law Firm Rankings

Since 2008, Calfee has been recognized as a Leading Law Firm for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation by Chambers USA, most recently in Band 2 in Ohio (2024).

Clients provided feedback to Chambers USA researchers, "The firm is very responsive and offers hands-on involvement from partners. The lawyers have represented our interests very well in discussions and negotiations with third parties. The team knows our business well after years of service. The lawyers' timeliness, as well as their knowledge of our business, make them a critical partner to us. My company is extremely satisfied with the work Calfee has done for us. They are thorough, creative, and responsive. 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. The team has a strong knowledge of benefit plans and an amazing ability to link things together. They deliver excellent work."

Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion in the 2024 "Best Law Firms" rankings 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 2024 as a Highly Recommended Law Firm in Dispute Resolution in Ohio. Additionally, 14 of Calfee's Litigation partners have been ranked by Benchmark Litigation as "Litigation Stars" in the U.S. (National), Midwest, and Ohio and as “40 & Under" and "Future Stars" Honorees.




  • Assisting our global, publicly traded manufacturing company client with respect to certain employee benefit-related litigation and benefit claims matters: (1) Continuing assistance in negotiating plan service agreements to reduce exposure for the client and its plans; (2) Assistance in responding to participant pension benefit claims, such as ones associated with disputes concerning service crediting, benefit calculations, prior distributions, and predecessor plan provisions; (3) Assistance in responding to participants’ health plan benefit claims in the claims-review adjudication process, including through multiple administrative levels of appeal and responses to participants’ and their authorized representatives’ requests for plan documents; (4) Continued assistance in assessing plan fiduciary duties in relation to a large insurance company class action antitrust settlement; (5) Continued assistance in updating retirement and welfare plan provisions for evolving case law on claims adjudication provisions (such as with respect to equitable liens, anti-assignment provisions, claims with respect to non-network providers, breadth of claims subject to plan claims review procedures, and time and venue limits on bringing suit), and assistance with enhancing retirement plan governance procedures, as proactive measures.
  • Filed a lawsuit against two large national healthcare administrative companies alleging the breach of our client’s contracts permitting countrywide access, at significant discounts, to the defendants’ provider networks.  This lawsuit, filed after several years of unsuccessful negotiations among the parties during which Calfee advised the client, asserts claims of breach of contract and tortious interference. 
  • Defended plan sponsors 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 hearings, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorney’s 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.



  • 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

  • "The Calfee team delivers excellent work." – Calfee client as reported to Chambers USA 2023
  • The team knows our business well after years of service. The lawyers' timeliness, as well as their knowledge of our business, make them a critical partner to us." – Calfee client as reported to Chambers USA 2022
  • "The firm is very responsive and offers hands-on involvement from partners. The lawyers have represented our interests very well in discussions and negotiations with third parties." – Calfee client as reported to Chambers USA 2022
  • "They are extremely responsive and very technically proficient. It is one of our top firms. The team has done a very good job for us over the years and continues to do so." – Calfee client as reported to Chambers USA 2022
  • "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 “Best Law Firms” 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 “Best Law Firms” report
  • "Calfee, Halter & Griswold is very knowledgeable on the technical aspects of ERISA." – Calfee client, as reported by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in “Best Law Firms” report

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"The entire team provides outstanding legal services."

Client quote, Chambers USA

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