Our ERISA Litigation practice handles the full spectrum of ERISA cases, including ERISA class actions challenging the administration of health care benefit plans, 401(k) plans, and defined benefit pension plans. We represent clients facing sensitive investigations or enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, state attorney’s general and other administrative agencies. Clients turn to Weil to address their most sophisticated legal issues arising in ERISA litigation, including preemption, standing, exhaustion, fiduciary status, disclosure obligations, withdrawal liability, plan termination, and benefit accrual.
We take an interdisciplinary approach toward ERISA litigations, which has become increasingly important as significant ERISA litigation matters routinely are accompanied by complex legal issues arising under the bankruptcy code, the securities laws and RICO. Indeed, Weil’s ERISA litigation practice includes more than 15 lawyers drawn from our Employment Litigation and Complex Commercial Litigation practice groups. Our practice leaders, in conjunction with other lawyers in our New York, Miami, Washington, DC, Dallas, and Boston offices have handled multiple high-profile and complex ERISA cases throughout the United States.
Weil defended AIG and certain current and former employees in a putative class action under ERISA on behalf of participants in certain 401(k) plans sponsored by AIG (the Plans) during the period August 7, 2007 through May 1, 2009 and whose participant accounts included shares of AIG’s Stock Fund. Plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that the defendants breached their fiduciary responsibilities to the Plans’ participants and their beneficiaries under ERISA by continuing to offer the AIG Stock Fund as an investment option in the Plans after it allegedly became imprudent to do so; they claim that the purported violations caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The alleged ERISA violations related to, among other things, the defendants’ purported failure to monitor and/or disclose unrealized market valuation losses on AIG Financial Product’s super senior credit default swap portfolio. In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, No. 12-751 (U.S. June 25, 2014), which rejected the presumption of prudence in favor of ERISA fiduciaries that many courts had previously applied, the Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss without prejudice to renewal of defendants’ motions on other grounds besides the presumption of prudence. The Court’s order required the parties to meet and confer concerning the impact of the Fifth Third Bancorp case and the possibility of settlement. On January 6, 2015, the parties informed the Court that they had accepted a mediator’s proposal to settle the class action for $40 million – a fraction of the more than $300 million value that the plaintiffs ascribed to their claims. The Court approved the class settlement in September 2015.
We successfully represented members of the AIG Retirement Board against claims by a participant claiming that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA by failing to bring a professional malpractice claim against PricewaterhouseCoopers for allegedly conducting a negligent audit of AIG.
- We won dismissal of claims by a participant in the Lehman Brothers Savings Plan who sought to sue the Plan’s auditor for professional malpractice "derivatively on the Plan’s behalf".
- We defended the Employee Benefit Plans Committee Of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in a lawsuit filed by the PBGC to terminate Lehman’s retirement plan, and settled the case on favorable terms, relying on a creative interpretation of Title IV of ERISA, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Due Process guarantees.
Weil has been successfully representing Marsh in an action by two former executives seeking to obtain severance benefits and the value of stock options forfeited when they were terminated in the aftermath of a New York state investigation into the practice of “contingent commissions” and alleged bid-rigging. In June 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for malicious prosecution and abuse of process on the pleadings. In its January 2015 decision granting Marsh’s motion for summary judgment, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for severance benefits under ERISA and for the value of their forfeited equity awards under state law. In June 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed the summary judgment decision in its entirety, and for the first time established a solid legal framework supporting the right of a company to terminate an employee who fails to cooperate in an internal investigation.
In 2015, Weil obtained the dismissal with prejudice of all claims against long-time clients UnitedHealth Group and Ingenix in In re Aetna, a multidistrict litigation, pending in New Jersey federal court, in which plaintiffs alleged that Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Ingenix conspired with all major health insurers in the U.S. to manipulate a database that the insurers used to determine health benefit payments for plan members and their physicians. In its opinion, the court accepted many of Weil’s arguments to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims asserted against United and Ingenix, while allowing the case to proceed against Aetna under ERISA. This case is the last in a series class actions filed in various courts against several of the nation’s largest insurers, including UnitedHealth, Aetna, Wellpoint, and Cigna.
- We are defending WMI in a purported ERISA class action—part of a consolidated, multi-district litigation also involving securities and derivatives litigations—where plaintiffs claim that WMI and other fiduciaries failed to act solely in the interest of WaMu Savings Plan beneficiaries by allowing imprudent investment in WMI stock as part of the Plan.
- We have negotiated favorable pending settlements that relate to the putative ERISA class action based on WMI’s “cash balance” pension plan, and WMI’s ownership rights to various “rabbi” trusts set aside in connection with certain ERISA “top-hat” plans.
- We are also defending the debtor’s estate in connection with various employment-related claims, including employment discrimination claims, as well as claims under retention agreements and severance and change of control plans.
Clients note that Weil “has demonstrated repeatedly that it is in the big league when it comes to difficult ERISA litigation,” making it an attractive option in “any difficult case where there is a lot at stake.”
Legal 500 US
Weil’s team includes “exceptional ERISA litigators” who “prevail in difficult cases.”
Legal 500 US
On ERISA matters, clients note that Weil has “exceptional” lawyers who are “masters of the craft.”
Legal 500 US
In the ERISA litigation space, Weil “excels in advising on cases involving large potential exposures.”
Legal 500 US
Weil ranked Tier 1 in the “Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law” category in the U.S.
US News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” Rankings
Weil’s New York office ranked "Tier 1 for ERISA Law" category in the U.S.
US News, Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" Rankings