O’Melveny Worldwide

ERISA Litigation

Managing fiduciary duties, while continuing to offer benefits and services to plan participants, has never been more challenging. O’Melveny makes it easier.

Managing fiduciary duties, while continuing to offer benefits and services to plan participants, has never been more challenging. O’Melveny makes it easier.

ERISA is a complicated area of law, but O’Melveny’s attorneys have seen it all. Our team offers not only keen insight into how to avoid litigation, how courts interpret fiduciary obligations, and how to minimize liability risk, but also how to succeed if a dispute does proceed to litigation.

Plan sponsors and service providers are facing mounting pressures from demographic changes turbulent financial markets, and spiraling employee benefit expenses (including sharp increases in the costs of meeting employees’ health care needs). At the same time, the legal context in which sponsors and service providers must fine-tune their benefit programs, product offerings, and fiduciary decision making has never been more complicated, as new regulatory regimes at the federal and state levels have multiplied (the latter fueled by judicial decision weakening the protection against state regulation afforded by ERISA’s express preemption provision). Their need for reliable legal advice has thus never been greater. Backed by more than 150 years of combined partner experience, our top-ranked ERISA litigation team has defended some of the most respected companies in the world in high-stakes disputes involving retirement plan assets, employee stock ownership, deferred compensation programs, health care benefit programs, and other welfare plan structures. In district and appellate courts across the country, at the pleading stage and at trial, representing plan sponsors and service providers, we have helped our clients facing catastrophic litigation or regulatory exposure- achieve favorable results.

Our service is not confined to the courtroom; we guide clients through ERISA’s complex regulatory framework and through Department of Labor investigations and audits. We help sponsors and service providers establish compliance programs that minimize risk and reduce the likelihood of future challenges.

American Airlines

Secured a major victory when, two days before the final pre-trial conference, a district court granted summary judgment in favor of American and the other defendant parties on claims challenging a core investment offering in the company’s 401(k) plan.

Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting

Won a five-day bench trial in an ERISA case, defeating claims by a class of 250,000 current and former Lowe’s employees that AON Hewitt breached its fiduciary duty to participants in Lowe’s 401(k) plans.


On behalf of more than 40,000 401(k) plan participants, we overcame many of the arguments typically asserted in support of claims of fiduciary breach involving retention of allegedly poorly performing and high-cost investments and service arrangements and secured a precedent-setting dismissal that has been leveraged by other companies facing similar claims.

Fidelity Investment

Secured an important and precedent-setting First Circuit ruling on the scope of fiduciary status under ERISA. Plaintiffs challenged an “infrastructure fee” that the client had negotiated with mutual fund providers. O’Melveny successfully persuaded the district court to dismiss the suit in its entirety and defended the decision before the First Circuit, which ruled to uphold Fidelity’s victory.

Leading Retail Pharmacy and Healthcare Company

Prevailed in an ERISA litigation matter asserting claims of retirement-plan losses based on a drop in the company’s share price. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint in its entirety and granted the company’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint.

The Walt Disney Company

Secured a complete dismissal of a putative class action suit in the Central District of California. Plaintiffs alleged that Disney’s 401(k) plan fiduciaries had breached their duties of prudence and loyalty under ERISA by offering an allegedly speculative and misdescribed investment option in the plan lineup. The dismissal was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

UnitedHealth Group

Convinced a federal judge to dismiss all claims in an ERISA class action filed by participants challenging UnitedHealth’s process to recover overpayments to health care providers. In its ruling, the court held that the participants in the ERISA-governed, employer-sponsored health plans lacked standing to challenge UnitedHealth’s process because they were not denied any benefits and had not been individually injured.

Representative Clients
American Airlines
Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting
Fidelity Management Trust Company
Morgan Stanley
T. Rowe Price Group
UnitedHealth Group

Named Law Firm of the Year: ERISA Litigation

US News - Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” (2023)

“They are absolute experts in ERISA litigation. It is a leading firm, which is up to date on the latest developments in ERISA and gives excellent strategic advice.” 

Chambers USA

For nearly two decades, Chambers USA has ranked O’Melveny as one of only two Band-1 firms for ERISA litigation.

“O’Melveny has an incredibly deep bench of ERISA litigation stars.”

—Client Testimonial, Chambers USA

Team members “compliment each other so well, with different demeanors, strengths and experiences. They are creative and highly collaborative, both among themselves and with other firms, when asked. They provide excellent client service.”

—Client Testimonial, The Legal 500 US

“Well-respected litigators covering the full spectrum of ERISA-related issues, regularly providing counsel on fiduciary responsibility. Acts on behalf of a varied client base which includes plan sponsors and financial services companies. Offers significant trial capabilities, as well as experience with appellate proceedings.”

Chambers USA