Authors

Co-Editors

Ann Caresani

ann-caresaniAnn Caresani focuses her practice on employee benefits, ERISA, ESOPs, and executive compensation. She counsels employers on the design, administration, and termination of their employee benefit programs, including tax-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and executive compensation arrangements. 

Ann defends employers, plan administrators, trustees, banks, insurers, investment managers, and other fiduciaries and service providers in ERISA litigation matters, including class action pension claims, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) breach of fiduciary claims, multi-employer plan breach of fiduciary duty claims regarding investment management, bankruptcy trustee claims involving 403(b) plan assets, executive compensation top-hat benefit claims, and denial of medical and disability benefit claims.

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Scott J. Stitt

scott-sitt

Scott Stitt has a national litigation practice, focusing on ERISA and related employment and business disputes.  He has served as lead trial counsel representing corporations, employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and defined benefit plan trustees, physicians and medical practice groups, and individuals in complex class action litigation in Ohio, New York, Illinois, California, Indiana, Missouri, and other jurisdictions.

Scott is experienced in ERISA criminal and civil disputes, including DOL and IRS audits and investigations, benefit claim disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, alleged prohibited transactions, and executive compensation and employment issues. He has extensive experience with ESOPs, and has served as both litigation counsel and special counsel to ESOP trustees and other ERISA fiduciaries. 

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Contributors

Corine Corpora

Corpora, Corine_webCorine Corpora has been actively involved in the employee benefits community for over 20 years. Corine’s client service experience includes representing all sizes of privately and publicly held organizations in the manufacturing, healthcare, information, food and beverage, and education industries, among others. She counsels clients with respect to qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, welfare and fringe benefit plans, and executive compensation, as well as incentive and stock-based compensation and rewards programs. She also advises clients on the complex rules governing ESOPs, has successfully defended ESOPs on audit, and currently counsels several ESOP-owned clients. Corine often works directly with clients’ accountants, actuaries, third-party advisors, and other service providers to address administrative and compliance issues.

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Christine Snyder

christine

Christine Snyder defends employers in litigation matters including wage and hour class actions and discrimination, harassment, retaliation, FMLA, wrongful discharge, and ERISA disputes.

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William Berglund

Bill Berglund achieves diverse solutions to complex legal problems for pharmaceutical, medical device, and other product manufacturers in federal and state court litigation nationwide. Bill also represents and counsels hospitals, individual health care providers, and other regulated businesses with respect to medical privacy and data security issues and federal and state law compliance.

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Zach LaFleur

Zachary LaFleur focuses his practice on general corporate, tax, and employee benefits matters.

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  • Recent Decisions Shine Light on Employer Liability for Data Breaches of Employee Personal Information

    An employee improperly accesses his employer’s computer network and steals the names, birthdates, and social security numbers of his fellow employees to use for illegal financial gain. A criminal hacks into that same network for similar illegal purposes. Because employers regularly obtain, store, and use confidential employee personally identifiable information (“PII”) as part of their business operations, they are targets for this kind of activity. But what legal responsibility do employers have to their employees when PII is misappropriated by an employee, or stolen by hackers in a data breach? Two Pennsylvania courts have recently shined some light on this issue. In both cases, which involved large-scale data breaches affecting thousands of employees, the courts absolved the employers of any potential liability because either (1) they owed no duty in tort to their employees to protect PII against data breaches or (2) the employer had no express or implied contractual obligation to protect the PII. Read more

    HIPAA Phase 2 Audits Are Here. Are You Ready?

    Phase 2 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) HIPAA audit program is in process. Unlike OCR’s initial Phase 1 Pilot audits, which addressed only Covered Entities, Phase 2 also focuses on Business Associate compliance with HIPAA’s Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. These audits seek to enhance industry awareness of HIPAA compliance obligations and the information obtained will be used to develop OCR’s permanent audit program. All Covered Entities and Business Associates are eligible to be audited. Read more

    Yahoo’s data breach costs general counsel his job

    Well this is unsettling – the person responsible for the massive data breaches at Yahoo was its general counsel? CorporateCounsel speculates about what this means for in-house counsel: are their jobs at risk over cybersecurity? And I wonder – what if a company does not have in-house counsel, or has turnover in IT? Who else will be held accountable for data breaches? Various privacy laws are potentially applicable to businesses, employers and sponsors of employee benefit plans, not the least of which is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While the specifics of the laws vary, certain basic principles apply across the board. One key principle is that security incidents do not arrive packaged with a pretty bow, and a notice stating “hundreds of millions of your user accounts were just affected.” Incidents can appear innocuous or minor until fully investigated, and it may be challenging to draw distinctions between business decisions and legal decisions. The committee that reviewed the Yahoo matters concluded that the relevant legal staff had sufficient information to warrant substantial further inquiry, but failed to do so. Subsequently, general counsel resigned. Anyone who could possibly be held accountable for the handling of data breaches should be asking tough questions about data security practices and procedures, including the incident response plan. Don’t know what an incident response plan is, and who is responsible for it? It’s time to find out.  It costs a lot less to work with your privacy and data security attorneys to establish good practices and procedures than it does to deal with the aftermath of a hack and insufficient investigation, and your job may depend on it. Read more

    ERISA Express Preemption Superpower Beats Iowa Pharmacy Benefits Manager Law

    Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gave ERISA’s express preemption provision back its superpower, in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. This year, in Pharmaceutical Care Management Association v. Gerhart, the Eighth Circuit applied Gobeille to reverse the dismissal of the claims of the pharmacy benefits manager (“PBM”) association. Ruling in the association’s favor, the Court held that ERISA expressly preempts an Iowa law that imposes substantial regulations on PBMs operating in Iowa. Read more

    Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rule Blocked, For Now

    Late yesterday, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction and blocked the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new federal overtime rule from taking effect on December 1. The new rule would have raised the minimum salary for most exempt employees from $23,660 to $47,476. The court granted a preliminary injunction requested by 21 states that claim the DOL exceeded its rulemaking authority by dramatically raising the salary threshold to more than double its prior level and by adding a provision that would allow for automatic adjustments to the salary threshold every three years. The preliminary injunction issued by the court is temporary and preserves the status quo under the existing overtime regulations until the court either makes a final decision regarding the DOL’s authority to implement the final rule or dissolves or modifies the injunction. For now, the minimum salary remains at $23,660. In a statement, the DOL defended the new regulations, stating that it was “considering all of our legal options” to respond to the setback. Read more