Nicholas J. Pappas is a partner in Weil’s Employment Litigation Practice Group, where he focuses on the full spectrum of complex employment and benefit litigation matters. 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 duties, disclosure obligations, withdrawal liability, plan termination, and benefit accrual.
His work on these matters has garnered him and the practice significant recognition by legal and business media. Among other accolades, since 2014 Mr. Pappas has been recognized by Chambers USA as one of the top 30 lawyers nationwide for ERISA Litigation, with clients noting his reputation as “practical and pragmatic,” and as a “solid litigator” with “top-notch presentation skills,” who is “smart, attentive to detail, and understands the business.” In 2016, Chambers USA also recognized him as a “leading” lawyer in New York for Labor and Employment litigation, with sources calling him a “terrific lawyer.” Since 2012, Mr. Pappas has been recognized as among the “Top 20 Lawyers in Employee Benefits” nationwide by Human Resource Executive magazine and Lawdragon. In addition, since 2013, Mr. Pappas has been listed as a recommended lawyer by Legal 500 US, including in the areas of ERISA litigation and Labor & Employment litigation, with clients noting his “exceptional lawyering,” “expertise that is unsurpassed” and “business savvy [that] is invaluable” and highlighting his “attention to detail, preparation, and skilled advocacy” and “master[y] of the craft.” He was also recognized in 2013 by Law360 as one of four nationwide “MVPs” in the healthcare space.
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:
- Hilton Worldwide, Inc. v. Caesars Entertainment Corporation (N.D. Ill.) – representing Hilton and plan fiduciary in ERISA action to recover contributions owed to a multiple employer defined benefit pension plan;
- 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.
A number of Mr. Pappas’s victories in ERISA matters have garnered public attention and/or established important precedents, including:
- In re Aetna UCR Litigation, 2015 WL 3970168 (D.N.J. June 30, 2015) – dismissal of putative antitrust and RICO class action against UnitedHealth Group and Ingenix, Inc.
- Gilman v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, 2015 WL 321827 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 26, 2015) – summary judgment for Marsh in an action by two former executives suing under ERISA and state law to obtain severance and equity benefits in connections with their dismissals in the aftermath of an investigation by the New York Attorney General regarding alleged bid‑rigging;
- Gates v. United Healthcare Insurance Company, 2014 WL 5800573 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2014) – summary judgment dismissing putative ERISA class action against United Healthcare Insurance Company 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. 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 also maintains a robust pro bono practice, where he represents a number of not-for-profit corporations, including the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, the Central Park Conservancy, Boys & Girls Harbor, the Red Hook Initiative, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the National Philoptochos Society, CancerCare, the Perlman Foundation, Lutheran Social Services of New York and the Ali Forney Center.
Mr. Pappas served as a law clerk to the Honorable Susan H. Black, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.