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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, 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 2020, 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." They also offer experience in white-collar investigations and litigation, "defending a range of individuals and businesses facing regulatory enforcement actions." And they represent "clients in sectors including healthcare, financial services and manufacturing."

"One client praises the team as 'experienced, insightful, practical, efficient and client-oriented.' They continue, 'When you pose a question, you can rest assured that they will respond promptly with cogent, clear and practical responses.'"

"Another client praises the Litigation group for providing 'high-quality and cost-effective legal advice; the team has been crucial to our litigation defense, and we have been very happy with all of their efforts.'"

Chambers researchers noted that a commentator stated, "This is an excellent firm that does a great job for us. The team is cost-effective, practical and has strong expertise."

Litigation practice Co-Chair, Christopher S. Williams, has been ranked by Chambers USA 2020 in Litigation: General Commercial, Band 4 in Ohio. "'Fantastic lawyer' Christopher Williams co-chairs the firm's litigation department and is well regarded for his expertise in commercial disputes as well as ERISA and healthcare litigation. According to a client, 'He is very practical, thorough and he shows good judgment.'"

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

Calfee was selected for inclusion in the 2021 "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in Litigation - ERISA (National Tier 2, Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland) and Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (National Tier 3, Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland).

Benchmark Litigation Rankings

Calfee has been selected for inclusion by Benchmark Litigation 2020 as a "Recommended" litigation firm in Ohio. Several of Calfee's Litigation attorneys have been ranked as Leading Litigators by Benchmark Litigation 2020.




  • 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.



  • 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

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Calfee's Litigation team is "experienced, insightful, practical, efficient and client-oriented. When you pose a question, you can rest assured that they will respond promptly with cogent, clear and practical responses."

Chambers USA 2020

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