May 24, 2017
Class Action Settlement – Short, et al. v. Churchill Benefit Corporation/Yurcor Daniel Short, et al. v. Churchill
Joel regularly represents retirees and their unions asserting claims for retiree health benefits. Among many matters, he played a significant role in three class actions brought on behalf of retired UAW members, pursuant to which a VEBA trust funded by GM, Ford and Chrysler and worth billions of dollars was established to provide health benefits to retirees for their lifetimes. See U.A.W. v. General Motors Corp., Case 2:07-cv-14074 (E.D.Mich.); U.A.W. v. Ford Motor Co., Case 2:07-cv-14845 (E.D.Mich.); U.A.W. v. Chrysler, LLC, Case 2:07-cv-14310 (E.D.Mich.). He has also represented active employees in claims for medical benefits and helped litigate Kennedy, et al. v. United Healthcare of Ohio, Inc., Case C2-98-128 (S.D.Ohio), which resulted in a $1.95 million recovery in a class action challenging the calculation of benefits under group medical plans.
Joel has successfully litigated a number of pension class actions under ERISA. He played a major role in obtaining summary judgment in two separate class actions brought on behalf of pension plan participants challenging the calculation of benefits. See Clemons v. Norton Healthcare, Inc. Retirement Plan, 981 F.Supp.2d 646 (W.D.Ky. 2013) (granting summary judgment to class of retirees in a pension lawsuit involving the calculation of early retirement subsidies and lump sum distributions); 2016 WL 79995 (W.D.Ky. Jan. 6, 2016)(adopting retirees’ damage formula); Cottillion v. United Refining Co., C.A. No.: 1:09-cv-00140, 2013 WL 1419705 (April 8, 2013) (granting summary judgment to named plaintiffs and holding that reduction in benefits violated ERISA’s anti-cutback rule); 2013 WL 5936368 (W.D.Pa. Nov. 5, 2013) (certifying class of deferred vested participants, granting summary judgment to class, and ordering declaratory and injunctive relief to all class members and back benefits to class members in pay status); 781 F.3d 47 (3d Cir. March 18, 2015)(affirming summary judgment for participants).
Joel has served as class counsel or played a major role in cases securing multimillion dollar recoveries for participants in 401(k) plans and ESOPs, including Kling v. Fidelity Management Trust Co., Case 01-11939 (D.Mass.) ($10.85 million recovery for breach of fiduciary duty related to investment in employer stock in 401(k) plan); In re: CMS ERISA Litigation, Master File 02-72834 (E.D.Mich.) ($28 million settlement of fiduciary breach case involving employer stock in 401(k) plan/ESOP); In re McKesson HBOC, Inc. ERISA Litigation, Master File C00-20030 RMW (N.D.Cal.) ($18.2 million settlement of fiduciary breach case involving employer stock in 401(k) plan).
Joel also litigates insurance class actions under state law, and played a significant role in prosecuting Pogel v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., G.D. 97-17582 (C.P. Allegheny), which resulted in a $2.6 million recovery for a class of insureds following a favorable summary judgment ruling as to State Farm’s failure to pay replacement cost insurance under homeowners’ policies.
Joel is active in the Benefits Committee of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section and serves as Co-Chair of the Subcommittee for Benefit Claims and Individual Rights. In that capacity, he is a contributing author and chapter editor of Employee Benefits Law (BNA Books). He is also a contributing author to the ERISA Litigation legal treatise (Zanglein, Frolik). Joel’s additional publications include Response to Collectively Bargained Retiree Health and the Demise of Yard Man – Perspectives from Counsel for Retirees, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee Newsletter, Spring 2015 (with Pamina Ewing, Esq.); CIGNA Corp. v. Amara: Protecting Employees From Disclosure Violations Under ERISA, BNA Pension & Benefits Daily, June 2, 2011 (with Tybe A. Brett, Esq.); Find The Catch In The Contract: “Actual Charges,” published in Trial Magazine, October 2009 (with Ellen M. Doyle, Esq.); and Winning With Grammar, published in the ATLA Insurance Law Section Newsletter, Winter 2006 (addressing use of expert testimony on grammar to demonstrate unreasonableness of insurer’s policy interpretation).
Joel’s presentations include Retiree Health Claims after Tackett, a panel presentation at the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee 2016 Midwinter Meeting (February 2016); Recent Supreme Court Rulings on Access to Courts, a panel presentation at the Pension Rights Center’s Enforcement of ERISA Rights and Responsibilities Program (October 2014); ERISA Litigation Potpourri: Developing Topics, a panel presentation at the 26th Annual ERISA Litigation Conference (December 2013); Fiduciary Update: A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That, a panel presentation at the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee 2013 Midwinter Meeting (February 2013), and Dissecting Cigna v. Amara, a panel presentation at the Pension Rights Center’s annual Pension Training Conference (June 2011). Joel also presents CLE programs annually through the American Inns of Court on such diverse topics as class and collective actions, direct and cross examination, expert witness disclosures, the roles social networking websites can play in litigation, and jury selection.
Joel graduated from Westminster College magna cum laude and is a 2000 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is admitted to practice before the courts of Pennsylvania; the United States District Courts for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Western District of Tennessee, the Northern District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Northern District of Ohio; and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits. His professional memberships include the American Bar Association, Allegheny County Bar Association, Lawyers Coordinating Committee of the AFL-CIO, and The Honorable Amy Reynolds Hay Chapter of The American Inns of Court (where he serves as Secretary/Treasurer and on the Executive Board).