ERISA and Benefits Litigation

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Kutak Rock's ERISA and Benefits Litigation Practice Group is comprised of a team of attorneys experienced in handling claims under ERISA and, where ERISA is inapplicable, under relevant state laws. We have a long history representing plans in a wide variety of ERISA and non-ERISA litigation, including class action claims, statutory interpretation, administrative matters and regulatory contests.

Our experience covers a broad spectrum of industries, including insurance, financial services, retail, telecommunications and manufacturing and our ERISA litigation clients include employers/sponsors, fiduciaries, insurers, third-party administrators, and service providers. Regardless of the industry or client, our attorneys have represented ERISA entities in all aspects of ERISA-related claims in suits brought by participants, beneficiaries and fiduciaries. We also are familiar with fiduciary liability insurance policies and carriers’ practices as approved panel counsel for major insurance carriers.

Our ERISA litigators have successfully defended and prosecuted ERISA matters at all stages of litigation, from the federal and state trial court level to appeals, and have successfully handled ERISA litigation matters throughout the country. Our experience includes complex ERISA litigation relating to benefit-related claims such as claims for benefits due, stock drop litigation, retiree health and welfare benefits issues, ESOPs, managed care claims, withdrawal liability, prohibited transactions, fiduciary claims and benefit discrimination matters.

We employ a proactive approach to ERISA litigation that results in efficient resolution of disputes while minimizing costs for our clients and discouraging future claims. We provide an aggressive approach to litigation while being mindful of the need for prompt and early evaluation of claims and ongoing evaluation of opportunities for early resolution. We win cases by applying a keen understanding of ERISA's complex statutory provisions, regulatory requirements and case law, including:

  • Removal to federal court and complete preemption;
  • The scope of ERISA's savings clause that precludes preemption of certain state laws;
  • Standard of review and exhaustion of administrative remedies;
  • ERISA-specific defenses, including Section 404(c) and statute of limitations defenses; and
  • ERISA's specific and limited remedies.

We also have a strong awareness of various ancillary issues that arise in ERISA litigation. ERISA frequently overlaps with other substantive areas of the law, and we have the expertise to anticipate and address such issues. Applying the firm's extensive experience in employment, tax, health care, insurance coverage and securities litigation, we are able to develop effective and efficient strategies for achieving successful outcomes for our clients.

Representative Engagements

  • Stock drop litigation.
  • Defending employers, insurers and fiduciaries against claims of wrongful denial of health, disability, life insurance, severance and pension benefits.
  • Defending third-party administrators against various claims, including claims processing litigation.
  • Benefit discrimination/retaliation litigation.
  • Defending breach of fiduciary duty claims against ERISA fiduciaries.
  • Collecting employer contributions.
  • Litigation involving plan amendments.