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Practice Contacts


GRSM has a specialty practice group focused on ERISA disputes. The ERISA team is part of our Insurance and Employment Practices groups, which have extensive experience handling disputes involving life, health, and disability insurance, including annuities, pension plans, retirement plans, and long term care insurance. 

Our attorneys have comprehensive knowledge of ERISA substantive law and extensive experience litigating ERISA claims in the federal trial and appellate courts. Our ERISA experience involves not only claims for various employee benefits, but also complex breach of fiduciary duty claims against retirement and pension plan administrators. As ERISA litigation continues to increase, we have a team of experienced attorneys with substantial experience in the planning of ERISA litigation strategy and advising clients in the assessment of a wide range of risks. Our experience includes litigating claims in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing the insurance industry in connection with a full array of ERISA issues and claims including:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims against ERISA plan fiduciaries for alleged self dealing and violation of pension plan terms
  • Defense of suits seeking disability benefits under employer sponsored plans, both insured and self-insured
  • Disputes about the application of ERISA exemptions, e.g., government sponsored and church plans
  • Medical insurance claims seeking benefits denied as not medically necessary or experimental
  • Disputes over applicable plan regarding primary versus secondary status
  • Disputes about whether benefits plans comply with ERISA
  • Claims involving ERISA preemption against life insurer for agent's negligence in failing to establish IRS-compliant ESOP

Representative ERISA matters include:

Our team recently represented a defendant health insurer in an ERISA action in federal court in which the plaintiff sought benefits for inpatient treatment he received for drug and alcohol abuse. The insurer denied coverage based on a finding that inpatient treatment was not the medically appropriate level of care. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favor of the insurance company. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, a federal court granted a motion to dismiss for the firm's client, a retirement plan, on a breach of fiduciary claim in a hybrid ERISA/wrongful termination lawsuit.