ERISA & Pensions/401(K)s
At Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, our ERISA and Pension Law practice group enjoys a prominent reputation nationwide for advising clients and litigating matters under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), both through individual claims and in class action lawsuits resulting in millions of dollars recovered for our clients. For decades, our attorneys have represented Taft-Hartley health and welfare funds, JATC apprenticeship funds, and both defined contribution and defined benefit pension funds. In addition, our law firm brings claims on behalf of individuals for wrongful denial of benefits or other participation issues.
Our clients include individual fiduciaries, plan participants, plan sponsors and administrators, custodians and trustees. Our attorneys’ experience in other practice areas, such as Labor and Employment and Securities, enables them to craft more comprehensive and effective solutions for our clients.
Our depth of experience in a wide range of ERISA matters allows us to efficiently represent plan fiduciaries and participants in cases related to:
- Advice to ERISA plan fiduciaries on a variety of administration and compliance issues
- Creation of employee benefit trusts and plans
- Collection of delinquent employer contributions
- Claims for breach of fiduciary duties, retaliation and interference with protected rights
- Administrative claims and appeals for LTD, STD, and other benefits
- Department of Labor (DOL) audits, interpretations, investigations and enforcement
- Imprudent investment claims in employer stock
- Unpaid employee contributions related to 401k and other retirement plan contribution issues
- Participant direction of investment issues
- Pension and welfare benefit claims
- Plan design and amendments
- Subrogation claims
- Beneficiary claims for benefits, including interpleader claims
- Severance, vacation pay, and other welfare benefit issues
The following cases provide examples of the types of success that our ERISA and Pension Law practice group has had:
- Hitchcock v. Cumberland University 403(b) DC Plan, 851 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 2017). As a result of this case, the university returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to employees’ retirement accounts that it had wrongfully withheld. The firm succeeded in setting the precedent that plan participants can take legal claims, such as breach of fiduciary duty, straight to the courts, without having to exhaust administrative remedies through the plan, an issue of first impression in the Sixth Circuit.
- Deschamps v. Bridgestone Americas Inc. Salaried Employees Retirement Plan, 840 F.3d 267 (6th Cir. 2016). The firm obtained judgment against Bridgestone, requiring the company to pay the full retirement benefits to Mr. Deschamps that it had promised him.
- Heath v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., No. 3:09-cv-0138, 2010 WL 374180 (M.D. Tenn. 2010). The firm assisting Mr. Heath in obtaining long-term disability benefits that the insurer had wrongfully denied him. This case was one of the first in this Circuit interpreting the Supreme Court’s decision in Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., ensuring that participants will be able to recover their attorneys’ fees and litigation costs when suffering a wrongful denial of benefits.
- Delphi Corp. ERISA Litigation (Polito v. Delphi Corporation, et al.), No. 05-cv-71249 (E.D. Mich.). Lawsuit brought on behalf of participants in Delphi pension plans alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties and responsibilities under ERISA by, among other things, failing to investigate the prudence of an investment in Delphi stock and by making misrepresentations about the Company’s accounting practices for off-balance sheet financing and vendor rebates dating back to 1999.
- Global Crossing ERISA Litigation, No. 02 Civ. 7453 (S.D.N.Y.) (Lynch). One of several counsel in a 401k/ESOP class action suit brought on behalf of pension plan participants against fiduciaries at Global Crossing for violation of duties owed under ERISA. Settlement reached that provided a $79 million cash payment to the Plan for participants and allowed Plan to recover in parallel securities action.