ERISA Litigation

Willkie’s ERISA trial lawyers are known for their creativity and practical approach in handling complex matters in this intricate area of law. Our team includes Chambers and Legal 500-recognized individuals with deep experience in ERISA and related matters. We collaborate with clients to successfully resolve high-stakes disputes on the best possible terms for our clients, whether through proactive advice to avoid extensive litigation, or through the trial and appellate process, when that is the best route to outstanding results.

We regularly represent employers and ERISA fiduciaries in federal courts around the country in both individual and class action lawsuits. We have been involved in precedent-setting cases that have created law across an array of areas including ERISA plan fee litigation, reimbursement rights, recovery of pension overpayments, ERISA estoppel and ESOP valuations, among many others. Our experience encompasses virtually all areas of disputes involving employee benefit plans, including:

  • Section 401(k)/403(b) claims for breaches of fiduciary duty and prohibited-transactions
  • Employer stock litigation including stock drop claims and investment challenges
  • Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) litigation concerning stock valuation, fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction claims
  • Department of Labor investigations and litigation involving retirement plans and health and welfare plans, retirement plans and ESOPs
  • Bankruptcy-related claims
  • Claims for benefits under executive compensation, retirement, and health and welfare arrangements
  • Claims arising from voluntary severance plans and other reductions-in-workforce issues
  • Multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability disputes
  • Taft-Hartley litigation including claims for contributions to multiemployer benefits plans

Our lawyers also provide strategic advice and counseling to plan administrators, fiduciaries and sponsors on compliance issues related to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reporting requirements and investigations. We also work with in-house counsel and with human resources and benefits professionals in developing and implementing programs and strategies for avoiding benefits litigation.

Willkie’s ERISA litigation practice draws on the skill and experience of our transactional benefits, labor and employment, securities litigation and other attorneys. This multidisciplinary approach enables our ERISA team to analyze potential and actual benefits disputes from all angles and to provide our clients with thoughtful, commercial solutions that address their business needs and goals.

Representative Engagements*

Willkie is privileged to advise and represent leading businesses in the successful and efficient resolution of a variety of potential and actual ERISA litigation matters. Recent noteworthy clients and decisions include:

  • Represent Northwestern University in a breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction class action related to allegedly excessive administration and investment management fees paid to service providers, successfully dismissing the complaint, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Represent Aon Corporation in a variety of ERISA cases, including a putative class action alleging fiduciary breaches and prohibited transactions in connection with allegedly excessive fees paid to service providers.
  • Represent Alight Solutions in a number of ERISA actions involving pension overpayments, fiduciary breach allegations and estoppel claims related to service provider activities for employer-sponsored pension plans.
  • Represent The Northern Trust Company in an ERISA class action and ADEA collective action alleging anti-cutback and notice claims, as well as fiduciary breach and age discrimination claims, successfully dismissing the action.
  • Represent CenturyLink in a breach of fiduciary duty putative class action challenging the company’s use and management of active multi-manager funds as investment options in its 401(k) plan, successfully dismissing the complaint with no appeal taken.
  • Represent numerous former officers and directors of Appvion Inc. in complex fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction claims in multiple lawsuits challenging the valuation and administration of the Company’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).
  • Represent Prudential Insurance Company in a putative class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty claims related to excessive administrative fees and challenging the propriety of certain investment options.

* Some of these matters were handled prior to joining Willkie.