ERISA, enacted by the federal government in 1974, establishes certain standards for employee benefit plans as well as income tax rules that apply to transactions in those employee benefit plans. The purpose of ERISA is to provide protections and disclosures to workers whose retirement assets are managed by fiduciaries. ERISA does not require an employer to set up an employee benefit plan in the form of a pension plan or a health benefit plan, nor does ERISA generally require a minimum level of benefits, but if an employer does set up a pension plan or health benefit plan, ERISA provides the framework for such plans and for litigation regarding such plans.
The requirements for employee benefit plans under ERISA include:
- Reporting and disclosure of plan benefits to plan participants and government agencies
- Management of plans for the exclusive benefit of participants and beneficiaries
- Compliance with certain limitations on plan investments in employer-affiliated securities
- Funding of benefits in accord with laws and plan rules
ERISA Law Practice Areas
Employees may bring suit against plan fiduciaries, sponsors, trustees, and boards of directors with regard to alleged ERISA violations, and these suits can often present great risk to the financial security of the employer and affiliated parties such as insurers. Whether the plan is insured or self-funded, claim resolution involves application of the federal ERISA statutory framework to the employer-sponsored benefit plan or policy, with certain gaps filled by federal common law. ERISA benefit litigation requires knowledgeable attorneys who can recognize and resolve the numerous and often complex issues in an area of law that has produced volumes of reported and unpublished decisions throughout all levels of federal courts. Those issues might include:
- Safe harbor provisions and applicability of ERISA generally
- Compliance with notice and procedural requirements in claim administration
- Preemption of state law claims, including allegations of bad faith
- Limitations on the scope of discovery
- Identification of the proper content of an Administrative Record
- Application of the proper standard of judicial review
- Application of equitable vs. legal remedies
- Procedural issues involved in arguing ERISA-related matters in federal court
Proven Experience and Results in ERISA Law and Insurance Coverage Law
At Gwin, Steinmetz, & Baird, our attorneys have extensive experience representing life and disability insurers and self-funded welfare benefit plans in lawsuits concerning disability, accidental death and life insurance claims. We have successfully defended our clients in both the federal district courts and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our attorneys also have extensive experience in negotiating settlement of ERISA benefit claims directly with claimants’ counsel, via mediation or through settlement conferences with the courts. Our attorneys have also gained in-depth knowledge of ERISA subrogation issues, relating to both ERISA and non-ERISA claims, which are arising with increasing frequency in tort and insurance litigation.
Our attorneys also represent insurers concerning life, accidental death and disability policy claims that are not governed by ERISA. Our attorneys have over twenty years of experience representing insurers in coverage and bad faith litigation, as well as in handling personal injury and contract dispute cases.
Contact Gwin, Steinmetz, & Baird For Your ERISA Law Needs
Contact the attorneys at Gwin, Steinmetz & Baird for further information on how we can be of service in anticipating and managing claims related to employee benefit plans. Call 502-618-5700 today to set up a consultation with a Gwin, Steinmetz, & Baird ERISA law attorney.