Sidley has a top-ranked appellate practice. We have consistently obtained excellent results on ERISA litigation issues in the Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
BMO Harris (Marshall & Illsley) (7th Cir.)
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for the first time announced that it was adopting the Moench presumption of prudence to evaluate claims alleging that it was imprudent for plan fiduciaries to follow plan terms requiring that company stock be made available as an investment option, and held that plaintiffs did not allege sufficient facts to overcome the presumption. The Court also expressed “fundamental doubts” about the common theories of liability in 401(k) stock drop cases, recognizing that “it will be difficult” for any future plaintiff to rebut the presumption of prudence. The Court noted that, absent misrepresentations or other misconduct, “plaintiffs in such cases under ERISA must try to hit a very small and perhaps non-existent target.”
American United Life Insurance Company (7th Cir.)
- In a victory with broad implications for the financial services and health insurance industries – and ERISA cases in general – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit limited the reach of ERISA’s definition of “fiduciary” for entities that do not overtly assume fiduciary status. Specifically, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of a 401(k) service provider, holding that it was not a fiduciary under ERISA with respect to its receipt of “revenue sharing” from mutual fund companies. The opinion provides helpful guidance on the scope of key terms in ERISA’s definition of fiduciary and rejects a novel theory of fiduciary liability that the Department of Labor had espoused in an amicus brief.
Pegram v. Herdrich (U.S.)
- In this landmark Supreme Court case, Sidley successfully argued that a health maintenance organization was not acting as a fiduciary under ERISA when it made treatment decisions. Pegram v. Herdrich, 530 U.S. 211 (2000).
Bank of America Corporation (4th Cir.)
- The Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of our client in a precedent-setting case challenging a cash balance plan’s definition of “normal retirement age.” The case presented novel issues regarding “backloading,” lump sum benefit, and disclosure claims. McCorkle v. Bank of America Corp., 688 F.3d 164 (4th Cir. 2012).
Exelon Corporation (7th Cir.)
- We won dismissal of all claims against Exelon Corporation and certain of its directors and officers in a so-called “excessive fee” case involving Exelon’s 401(k) plan. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Loomis v. Exelon Corp., 658 F.3d 667 (7th Cir. 2011).
AT&T Corp. (3d Cir.)
- In this $6 billion class action – the largest collective action ever certified under the ADEA – Sidley won affirmance of summary judgment on all claims. Engers v. AT&T, No. 10-2752, 2011 WL 2507089 (3d Cir. June 22, 2011).
Pfizer Inc. (7th Cir.)
- In affirming the judgment in favor of our client, the Seventh Circuit addressed key issues relating to benefit accrual. Walker v. Monsanto Co. Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 415 (7th Cir. 2010).
Owens Corning (6th Cir.)
- In affirming summary judgment in favor of Owens Corning’s CEO and members of the senior management team, the Sixth Circuit clarified important questions about how to interpret ERISA’s three-year “actual knowledge” rule and when a claim for breach of fiduciary duty accrues. Brown v. Tober, 622 F.3d 564 (6th Cir. 2010).
Exelon Corp. (7th. Cir.)
- The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a challenge to our client’s discretion in defining “normal retirement age” under a pension plan. Fry v. Exelon Corp. Cash Balance Pension Plan, 571 F.3d 644 (7th Cir. 2009).
Tribune Company (7th Cir.)
- In affirming the dismissal of the complaint, the Seventh Circuit observed that “ERISA imposes no duty on plan fiduciaries to continuously audit operational affairs.” Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686 (7th Cir. 2008).
Southern California Gas Company (9th Cir.)
- In a closely watched, precedent-setting case, Sidley won affirmance of the dismissal of age discrimination, backloading, and state law claims. Hurlic v. Southern Calif. Gas Co., 539 F.3d 1024 (9th Cir. 2008).
Quaker Oats (PepsiCo) (7th Cir.)
- The Seventh Circuit enforced the plan terms over allegedly contrary statements from the company and plan. Kannapien v. Quaker Oats Co., 507 F.3d 629 (7th Cir. 2007).
AT&T Corp. (3d Cir.)
- The Third Circuit agreed that AT&T did not breach its fiduciary duties under ERISA when it allegedly failed to tell retiring employees that it was contemplating a change to the pension plan that would have provided them with better benefits. Peterson v. AT&T, 127 Fed. Appx. 67, 2005 WL 751925 (3d Cir. 2005).
Pathology Laboratories (7th Cir.)
- We successfully defended an ERISA-based challenge to “professional component” billing, a practice widely used by clinical pathologists. Central States, S.E. & S.W. Areas Health & Welfare Fund v. Pathology Labs. of Arkansas, P.A., 71 F.3d 1251 (7th Cir. 1995).