Richard J. Pearl Richard J. Pearl

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Rick Pearl focuses his practice on litigation involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). He represents companies, their benefits committees, plan administrators, fiduciaries, and service providers in complex, class-action litigation and Department of Labor lawsuits, audits, and investigations.  His particular expertise is with actions for breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transactions. Read Rick Pearl's full bio. 

ESOP Litigants Play by Their Own Valuation Rules


By on Aug 27, 2020
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Digital Health, Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

Imagine if you were playing on a baseball team and the opposing players argue that you are violating the rules of soccer. That’s what it’s like when private parties and the Department of Labor (DOL) challenge Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) valuations. Plaintiffs play a very different valuation ballgame, which confounds experts who go up...

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Fair Market Value: Are the DOL & Some Courts Getting It Wrong?


By on Aug 18, 2020
Posted In Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

McDermott’s Rick Pearl took part in the NCEO 2020 Employee Ownership Virtual Conference. In his presentation, Pearl gave an overview of ERISA standards for an ESOP transaction, discussed fair market value, and whether the US Department of Labor and some courts are getting it wrong. Access the presentation.

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Illinois Federal Court Dismisses ERISA Claims Against 401(k) Fiduciaries


By and on Aug 5, 2020
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires plan fiduciaries to act prudently and loyally when making decisions about the plan. In Martin v. CareerBuilder, LLC, a federal district court held that the complaint’s allegations about expensive recordkeeping costs and imprudent investment options failed to give rise to an inference that the defendants...

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SCOTUS Holds Proof of ‘Actual Knowledge’ Required Under ERISA Statute of Limitations


By on Mar 3, 2020
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The US Supreme Court handed workers a big win by preserving a six-year deadline to file ERISA class actions as the standard, but employers have already seized on language in Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion as a road map for how to impose a shorter deadline. Justice Alito ended the unanimous opinion—which affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s...

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ERISA Cases to Watch in 2020: All Eyes on the High Court


By on Jan 23, 2020
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for benefits law, with three ERISA cases already on the US Supreme Court’s docket and a number of other high-profile lawsuits at the circuit court level that could attract the justices’ attention. While waiting on the high court’s ERISA decisions, lawyers are watching litigation trends develop...

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The Biggest ERISA Decisions of 2019


By on Jan 14, 2020
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

In a relatively slow year for benefits rulings, multimillion-dollar settlements were the star of the show. And amid the slew of settlements this year, two court rulings stood out. McDermott’s Richard J. Pearl contributes to a Law360 article that breaks down the Ninth Circuit ruling allowing benefit plan managers to force fiduciary-breach suits into solo...

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Ninth Circuit Decides Not to Rehear Its Decision Requiring Arbitration of ERISA Claims


By and on Dec 19, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Employment, Retirement Plans

As we wrote in a previous On the Subject, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had signaled that it might rehear its August 2019 decisions in Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corp., in which the Court compelled arbitration of ERISA class-action claims relating to a 401(k) plan. After ordering additional briefing, however, the Ninth Circuit denied the...

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Class Certification Denied in ERISA Health Coverage Lawsuit


By , and on Nov 12, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Employee Benefits, Health and Welfare Plans

A federal district court denied class certification to health plan participants who claimed the plan promised them lifetime benefits. The court found too many individualized questions about what the plan told each participant, and the claims could not be resolved on a class-wide basis. Fitzwater, et al. v. Consol Energy, Inc., et al., No. 2:16-cv-09849...

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Ninth Circuit Considers Rehearing in ERISA Arbitration Case


By and on Nov 5, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

The Ninth Circuit signaled that it might rehear Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corp., where earlier this year it held that a mandatory arbitration provision required arbitration of an ERISA fiduciary-breach claim. Access the full article.

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Federal District Court Dismisses Pension Actuarial-Equivalence Lawsuit


By and on Oct 17, 2019
Posted In Benefit Controversies, Retirement Plans

In the string of pension-plan related, actuarial equivalence lawsuits, the court in DeBuske, et al. v. PepsiCo, Inc., et al. recently handed down the first decision favorable to plan sponsors. The DeBuske court’s narrow decision may, however, have limited impact going forward. Access the full article.

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