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ERISA Litigation

Attorneys at Troutman Sanders LLP are experienced in litigation involving claims asserted under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA"). We draw on the combined skills of trial lawyers who litigate complex ERISA matters and lawyers who specialize in the fields of taxation, compensation, and employee benefits. The breadth of Troutman Sanders' experience includes defending against claims for breaches of fiduciary duty, for among other things, alleged mismanagement of employee benefit plan assets; defending insurers, fiduciaries, and employers against claims for health, disability, life insurance, severance, and pension benefits; defending third party administrators against various claims, including claims for breach of fiduciary duty; representing parties in disputes regarding executive compensation plan benefits; and defending employers and fiduciaries against ERISA claims asserted in connection with corporate down-sizing or severance.

Claims asserted against ERISA fiduciaries have increased dramatically in recent years, particularly with regard to lawsuits alleging that retirement plan assets have not been managed prudently. The law presently is evolving and developing in this area, and Troutman Sanders is in the forefront of defending such ERISA claims.

In addition to civil litigation, the firm's experience in resolving ERISA-related disputes extends to civil and criminal governmental investigations and proceedings. Troutman Sanders has represented clients in Department of Labor audits and criminal investigations, Internal Revenue Service civil and criminal investigations, proceedings before state insurance commissioners, and proceedings before federal and state healthcare regulators.

ERISA Litigation Team: Civil Litigation Representative Engagements

  • Representation of Beazer Homes (USA) Inc., the 401(k) Committee and other defendants in consolidated ERISA class action alleging breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with employer stock held in the 401(k) Plan
  • Representation of The Southern Company, the Board of Directors of Southern Company Services, Inc., and other defendants in a putative class action lawsuit asserting ERISA claims for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with a 401(k) plan investment option
  • Representation of HealthTrust, Inc. - The Hospital Company and retirement committee defendants in a defendant class action lawsuit involving complex ERISA issues, including the validity of an ESOP's deemed cash-out provision and counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty
  • Representation of Murata Electronics North America in defense of class action lawsuit involving employees' claims to $10 million in surplus assets in a pension fund; win in trial court was affirmed on appeal at International Union of Electrical Workers v. Murata, 46 F.3d 1117 (3rd Cir. 1994)
  • Representation of Georgia-Pacific Corporation in a case brought by retirees seeking lifetime health benefits
  • Representation of Georgia Power Company in proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board and on appeal in case involving modifications to future retiree welfare benefits and the interplay between ERISA and labor laws
  • Representation of individual claimants in binding arbitration proceedings with regard to claims for executive compensation plan benefits
  • Representation of Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. and World Championship Wrestling in case asserting ERISA claims in connection with plaintiffs' challenges to their status as independent contractors
  • Representation of third party administrators in cases involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty with regard to alleged mismanagement of plan assets
  • Representation of Cousins Properties, Inc. in a lawsuit brought by a stop-loss insurance carrier seeking reimbursement of COBRA benefits
  • Representation of employers and fiduciaries in cases questioning whether early retirement packages were under serious consideration when plaintiffs terminated employment
  • Representation of employers and fiduciaries in defense of ERISA claims asserted in connection with severance plans, top hat plans, and corporate reorganizations
  • Virginia ERISA counsel for various insurers, including UNUM Provident, in defense of claims for employee benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty
  • Representation of employer in case involving multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability claims

ERISA Litigation Team: Government Investigations and Proceedings - Civil and Criminal

  • Representation of a publicly traded company in a criminal investigation regarding alleged ERISA violations based on purported improper influence and improper payments in connection with the retention of a plan service provider
  • Representation of a plan sponsor in a Department of Labor investigation involving alleged mishandling of plan assets
  • Representation of a hybrid self-insured plan in connection with a Department of Labor investigation and subsequent state criminal investigation involving allegations of improper use of Medicaid funds
  • Representation of various employers and plan sponsors in civil and criminal investigations pertaining to failures to remit funds to plan trustees and/or payments to the Internal Revenue Service
  • Representation of third party administrators in state insurance commission review proceedings and in state department of insurance investigations
  • Representation of pension and group health plans in Department of Labor audits of Forms 5500 and in audits pertaining to alleged prohibited transactions




J. Timothy Mast