Practice/Industry Group Overview
Lane Powell offers a sophisticated practice in ERISA-related matters, from the formation and administration of ERISA plans, to the litigation of ERISA-related claims. Lane Powell has nationally recognized expertise and specialized knowledge in this highly complex area of the law.
Lane Powell is one of the leading firms in the area of ERISA litigation. Our ERISA attorneys have expertise in all areas of ERISA and employee benefits law, and when necessary can consult with other lawyers in the Firm with experience in the area of tax law, securities law, bankruptcy law, employment law and banking and trust law. We also regularly advise companies in the compliance of Sarbanes-Oxley and fiduciary duty obligations, including white collar crime issues. This interdisciplinary approach allows Lane Powell to provide experienced representation for any type of ERISA case.
ERISA Litigation Experience
Lane Powell has represented clients in a wide variety of ERISA litigation, including:
- Breach of fiduciary duty claims;
- Disputes between plans and their service providers;
- Benefit claims under retirement plans, severance pay plans, and life, health and disability plans (self-funded and insured);
- Fiduciary insurance matters;
- Withdrawal, liability and delinquent contribution claims;
- Claims involving multiple employer arrangements, including MEWA’s;
- Benefit discrimination and other employment-related claims under Section 510 of ERISA;
- Disputes with the Department of Labor, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation and the Internal Revenue Service.
Lane Powell is keenly prepared to handle ERISA litigation in part because of its outstanding reputation for its expertise in employee benefit administration.
Representation of Employers and Others in ERISA Litigation
In ERISA-related matters, Lane Powell regularly represents employers, plans, insurance companies, bank trust departments, trust companies, brokerage firms and actuaries. A summary of these types of claims is itemized below.
- Breach of fiduciary duty for imprudent investments or imprudent selection of other fiduciaries or service providers;
- Failure to operate the plan for the “exclusive purpose” of providing benefits to participants or their beneficiaries;
- Engaging in ERISA prohibited transactions with plan assets;
- Failure to comply with ERISA-mandated administrative procedures, such as filing annual reports, making other disclosures, or providing employees with summary plan descriptions.
Representing employers in litigation involving employee benefit plans requires unique knowledge of special ERISA procedures, remedies, and the knowledge of the interaction of various employment and labor laws with ERISA and tax laws related to employee benefit plans. Lane Powell’s knowledge of the duties, responsibilities, and liabilities imposed by ERISA on employers and other fiduciaries keenly positions it as a leader in handling this type of litigation for employers. Lane Powell is well versed on ERISA litigation issues, including:
- ERISA standard of review;
- ERISA pre-emption and removal of claims to federal court;
- Recovery of attorneys’ fees; and
- The availability of punitive and/or other damages.
Many of the cases Lane Powell has litigated have been published in federal and state reporters. A representative sampling of some of the ERISA cases handled by Lane Powell include:
- Defeating ERISA class action by contingent workers for a national petroleum company;
- Defeating allegations of the plan discriminated against plan participants regarding mental health care benefits;
- Defeating a class action by plan participants for certain disability benefits; and
- Multiple trials involving issues of breach of fiduciary duty and other ERISA-related claims.
Representative clients include Nordstrom, Home Depot, UnumProvident, Met Life, Cigna, LINA, Mutual of Omaha and many Fortune 150 companies.