Nicholas J. Pappas is a partner in Weil’s Employment Litigation Practice Group, where he focuses on the full spectrum of complex ERISA and employment litigation matters. Recognized as among the “Top 20 Lawyers in Employee Benefits” by Human Resource Executive magazine and Lawdragon, Mr. Pappas concentrates primarily on the defense of ERISA class actions challenging the administration of health care benefit plans, 401(k) plans, and defined benefit plans. In these matters he regularly litigates and counsels on sophisticated legal issues arising in ERISA litigation, including preemption, standing, exhaustion, fiduciary status, disclosure obligations, withdrawal liability, plan termination, and benefit accrual. In addition to ERISA matters, Mr. Pappas also litigates and counsels with respect to a broad range of class and complex actions arising in the workplace, including those relating to antidiscrimination laws, enforcement of non-competition agreements, executive terminations, disability, whistleblowing, family leave, union organizing, and military leave.
Mr. Pappas’s notable recent matters include:
- In re AIG ERISA Litigation II (S.D.N.Y.) – representing AIG and certain current and former officers and directors in an ERISA stock drop case arising from the recent financial crisis;
- Downey v. Ingenix (C.D. Cal.) – representing UnitedHealth Group and several affiliates against a putative ERISA class action by two ambulatory surgery centers claiming underpayment of benefits;
- McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch (N.D. Ill.) – representing Merrill Lynch against claims of race discrimination of an “issue” class certified in part under Rule 23(b)(2);
- Safeco Insurance Company of America v. UnitedHealth Group (W.D. Wa.) – representing UnitedHealth Group and OptumInsight against claims for recovery of litigation expenses in three concluded class actions against Safeco, allegedly because of failure to defend the reputation of a database product in unrelated cases;
- Doctor’s Hospital of Slidell v. United Healthcare Insurance Company (D. La.) – representing United Healthcare Insurance Company against claims for underpayment of benefits allegedly because of use of a flawed database; and
- Gilman v. Marsh & McLennan Companies (S.D.N.Y) – representing MMC and related entities in an action by two former executives suing under ERISA to obtain severance benefits in connections with their dismissals in the aftermath of an investigation by the New York Attorney General regarding alleged bid-rigging.
A number of Mr. Pappas’s victories in ERISA matters have garnered public attention and/or established important precedents, including:
- Gates v. United Healthcare Insurance Company, 2013 WL 1718914 (S.D.N.Y. April 19, 2013) – summary judgment dismissing putative ERISA class action against UnitedHealth Group and various affiliates brought by a health care plan participant claiming improper “coordination of benefits” between her employer’s health plan and Medicare;
- In re Lehman Brothers Securities and ERISA Litigation, 2012 WL 6013012 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2012) – 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”;
- Spinedex v. United Healthcare of Arizona (D. Ariz. October 11, 2012) – summary judgment dismissing putative ERISA class action by chiropractic provider and plan participants alleging that benefits were improperly denied as “experimental and unproven”;
- Franco v. CIGNA, 2012 WL 209328 (D.N.J. Jan. 24, 2012) – judgment on the pleadings finding putative class action claims for civil conspiracy to be preempted by ERISA;
- Kendall v. Employees’ Retirement Plan of Avon Products, 516 F.3d 112 (2d Cir. 2009) – affirmance of dismissal of a putative ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duties based on the absence of standing as required by Article III of the U.S. Constitution;
- American Medical Ass’n v. United Healthcare Corporation, 2009 WL 4403185 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1, 2009) – approval of class action settlement over the objections of plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel;
- In re Managed Care, 430 F. Supp. 2d 1336 (S.D. Fla. 2006), aff’d, 2007 WL 1695735 (11th Cir. June 13, 2007) – summary judgment in the lead case of the provider track of MDL 1334; and
- In re Managed Care Litigation, 209 F.R.D. 678 (S.D. Fla. 2002) – denial of class certification in the subscriber track of MDL 1334.
Outside of his active practice, Mr. Pappas regularly lectures and writes on ERISA and employment-related topics, including at events sponsored by PLI, ACI, and the ABA. Notably, among other scholarly pursuits, since 1994 Mr. Pappas has co-authored the Employment Law Column in the New York Law Journal, and since 2004 has been a contributing author of the annual updates of the ABA’s Employee Benefits Law treatise. Mr. Pappas is also an active participant in bar association activities. He previously has served as co-chair of a subcommittee of the Employment Benefits Committee of the ABA’s Section of Labor and Employment, and as a member of the Litigation Committee, the Labor and Employment Law Committee, and the Benefits Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Mr. Pappas currently is a member of the New York American Inn of Court.
Mr. Pappas also maintains a robust pro bono practice, where he represents a number of not-for-profit corporations, including Save the Children, the Central Park Conservancy, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the National Philoptochos Society, CancerCare, Lutheran Social Services of New York, the Anti-Defamation League, the Near East Foundation, and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
Mr. Pappas served as a law clerk to the Honorable Susan H. Black, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.