Produced: In collaboration with HB Litigation Conferences
When: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 2 p.m. – 3:35 p.m. Eastern | 11 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. Pacific
Duration: 95 minutes
CLE: Yes
Price: Complimentary

How ERISA is applied to health, welfare and pension plans can mean shifts in billions of dollars’ worth of responsibilities that impact millions of individuals and organizations. Enacted in 1974, this federal law regulates nearly 681,000 U.S. retirement plans, 2.3 million health plans, and about as many other welfare plans such as life and disability plans. All told these plans cover some 143 million workers and dependents (Source: DOL).

Given increasing pressure to have the law’s requirements apply – or not apply – to various plans, it is critical to understand the potential impact on your organization and to take steps to mitigate risk.

In three class actions recently heard by the Supreme Court, for example, thousands of employees claim they face pension shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because their employers operated their plans as church plans, which are exempt from ERISA funding levels.

In addition, experts say we can expect increased ERISA-related litigation against employers and their boards of directors and officers – as both corporate entities and personally as individual fiduciaries ERISA plans. The issue is a big one in the education and financial sectors, too, with class actions pending against large universities and banking institutions related to their defined contribution plans.

What does all this mean for employers? How can companies and their attorneys better protect board members and officers from personal liability? How can companies remain compliant with ERISA’s various requirements?

Join our panel of ERISA specialists as they discuss:

Health & Welfare Liability Outlook:

  • Emerging Claims and Risk
  • Claims Against Boards of Directors and Officers
  • Personal D&O Liability
  • Health Savings Accounts

Current Trends in ERISA Litigation:

  • University 403(b) Class Actions
  • Church Plan Exemption Class Actions
  • Class Actions Focused on the Financial Sector on the Expansion/Confusion over Available Remedies

Best Practices for Protecting Your Board, Officers, and Fiduciaries:

  • Proper Delegation from Board to Fiduciary Committee
  • Indemnification
  • Annual Fiduciary Training


David McFarlane is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Corporate, Health Care, Tax, and Labor & Employment groups in the firm’s Los Angeles office. McFarlane has more than 20 years of experience in the U.S. and Canada advising on pensions, employee benefits, executive compensation, national and international corporate transactions, bankruptcy reorganizations, securities laws, corporate governance, deferred compensation, and structured finance matters related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). McFarlane is the former president of the Canadian American Bar Association, judge pro tem of the Superior Court of California, former vice-chair of the board of directors at Barlow Respiratory Hospital, former president of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, and former president of the Western Pension & Benefit Council (Los Angeles). Education: McGill University, B.A. political science; University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, Windsor, Canada, J.D.

René E. Thorne is a Principal and the Office Litigation Manager in the New Orleans office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice covers the full range of employee benefit litigation matters, including representation of employers, plans, plan fiduciaries, and trustees. In that regard, she has handled numerous ERISA class actions for clients such as Nortel Networks, Target, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Owens Healthcare, United Airlines ESOP Committee, Dunbar Armored, United Companies, Benefits Administration Corporation, and Beverly Enterprises. Thorne also has handled benefits and employment matters for such clients as for Alcatel-Lucent, Raytheon, Pfizer, Omega Protein, The Hartford, Northwest Airlines, Amtrak, United Airlines, Turner Industries, Starwood Hotels, and Sempra Energy. She has been retained as an expert in complex ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, prohibited transaction, and cash balance cases. While attending Loyola University School of Law, Thorne was a member of the Loyola Law Review and Moot Court.