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.
Our Employee Benefits team advises employers, trustees and pension funds on a range of fiduciary issues, such as their fiduciary duties, the common law of trusts, applicable federal tax statutes and regulations, and other relevant state and federal statutes and rules. This includes regularly advising clients regarding ERISA fiduciary duty provisions and the prohibited transaction rules of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
Our firm is skilled in providing fiduciary ancillary services for public plans in highly regulated environments. Our experience includes analysis and compliance with constitutional, statutory, and regulatory obligations, including initiating litigation (in the discharge of fiduciary obligations) to enforce rights due to public pension plans. Our attorneys meet directly with legislators to discuss legislation that might affect public pension plans or impact the scope of fiduciary duties, as well as participate actively in drafting legislation and monitoring legislative activity.
A distinguishing characteristic of this practice is the combination of unique experience and extensive participation in complex litigation directly governed by the fiduciary obligations of the trustees of plans. Our firm also advises on outlining and developing investment policies that comport with the discharge of fiduciary obligations. Notably, we have represented the two Detroit pension systems in the historic Detroit bankruptcy. In this context, we advised the board of trustees at each step of the way on all action that affected their fiduciary obligations to the trust—an extraordinary undertaking implicating constitutional matters and federal and state law.
We have also advised investment managers and advisors concerning their fiduciary duties under federal and state law, including Department of Labor regulations and SEC regulations. We have revised the customer agreements of investment managers and advisors to comply with these requirements.
We also regularly assist employers with ensuring compliance with their duties under ERISA Section 408(b)(2) to evaluate and benchmark the fees paid to service providers, and to determine the reasonableness of such fees.