With assistance from Kristi Gauthier, Ed Hammond, Peter Domas and Bishop Bartoni, Kevin Hendrick and Nicole Tersigni successfully defended an insurance priority dispute, resulting in an extremely favorable judgment for firm client, United States Steel Corporation’s ERISA-governed Retiree Benefits Plan. U. S. Steel Retirement Plan was joined as a third-party defendant in a pending dispute by a No-Fault Automobile Insurance carrier, which had been sued by a healthcare service provider for unpaid patient attendant care fees. The No-Fault Carrier claimed that the obligation to pay for these services under Michigan No-Fault law fell to U. S. Steel Retirement Plan, which covered the patient (who was a former U. S. Steel employee). Ed, Bishop, Kristi and Peter lent their expertise to Kevin and Nicole in interpreting alleged conflicting insurance priority provisions and explanations of benefits. Kevin and Nicole crafted a legal argument that ultimately led to summary disposition in favor of U.S. Steel Plan, and against the No-Fault carrier, saving U.S. Steel Plan from payment of the healthcare fees, and also reimbursing U.S. Steel Plan for benefits it had earlier paid by mistake, out of priority. As the No-Fault carrier had rejected the Case Evaluation award prior to the filing of cross motions for summary disposition, it also appears that attorney fees are recoverable for our client. Kristi and Ed on Employee Benefit law, Bishop on Michigan No-Fault law, and Pete on Health Care issues, proved to be unbeatable resources.
Employee Benefits/ERISA & Compliance
Clark Hill’s employee benefits team combines knowledge and experience in ERISA and state-law employee benefits issues with skills honed in a variety of related practice areas. This diverse team of attorneys and professionals combines their labor & employment, taxation, trusts, insurance, commercial litigation and appellate practice with their knowledge of plan design and administration, multiemployer plans, benefit claims and fiduciary duty issues to provide an integrated approach to serving the full range of our clients’ employee benefit needs. Our attorneys are all active members of the industry and bar association groups that deal with employee benefits matters and have authored many articles, webinars and other presentations in the benefits area. We have substantial experience in dealing with the IRS, Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
PLAN DESIGN AND ADMINISTRATION
Clark Hill’s employee benefits team of attorneys counsel businesses, governmental entities and individual clients regarding a full range of benefits issues. Our full line of employee benefits services include:
- Drafting and implementation of plans
- Preparation of IRS, Department of Labor and PBGC filings
- Assistance with IRS, Department of Labor and PBGC plan audits
- Qualified plan correction program compliance
QUALIFIED RETIREMENT AND PENSION PLANS. We deal with all types of tax-qualified plans, including profit sharing, defined benefit, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, money purchase, employee stock ownership (ESOP), multiemployer and multiple employer plans, and state and local government pension plans. Our attorneys frequently assist sponsors of pooled securities, real estate, and venture capital investments in complying with ERISA when they have pension fund investors. We have represented financial institutions in the design and maintenance of “master” retirement plans and IRA programs. Clark Hill attorneys have successfully resolved significant Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor investigations and audits of alleged violations of ERISA and the Code.
WELFARE AND FRINGE BENEFITS PLANS. Our expertise regarding welfare and fringe benefit plans includes cafeteria plans, COBRA compliance, flexible spending accounts, HRAs, the Medicare secondary rules and other coordination of benefits issues, qualified medical child support orders, claims procedures, tax and compliance issues associated with self-insured medical plans, severance plans, VEBAs, group health plans and disability plans. We have advised clients concerning compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act. Our attorneys have advised many companies on the legal requirements applicable to retiree medical and other welfare benefits, and have helped design and implement programs intended to reduce future retiree medical costs and liability and expense under FAS 106.
A substantial portion of our practice involves the pension and benefit plan aspects of business transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, counseling lenders on the employee on the employee benefit plan risks of their borrowers, and dealing with matters involving the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
GOVERNMENT AND TAX EXEMPT ORGANIZATION PLANS. Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with issues particular to governmental entities and tax-exempt organizations, including 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans, 457(f) plans and intermediate sanction rules.
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION. Our attorneys represent and counsel clients regarding all areas of executive compensation, including non-qualified deferred compensation and incentive compensation, stock option plans, phantom stock plans and SERPs.
Clark Hill attorneys represent employers, fiduciaries, insurers and third party administrators regarding all manner of claims before federal and state trial and appellate courts and administrative agencies. Our litigation experience includes defending claims in the following areas:
- Medical benefits claims
- Disability benefits claims
- Breach of fiduciary duty claims
- Discrimination claims
- ERISA reporting and disclosure claims
- Multiemployer plan contribution claims
- Withdrawal liability claims
Combining their plan design and administration, and litigation skills and experience, our attorneys also counsel employers and fiduciaries on methods for avoiding adverse claims. When matters reach the litigation stage, Clark Hill attorneys are experienced in handling claims both under ERISA and, where ERISA is inapplicable, under pertinent state laws.
For more information on our ERISA Litigation services, click here.