ERISA Litigation: Q&A with Conference Speaker Michelle L. Roberts

671L16_header   Michelle L. Roberts, Partner, Springer & Roberts, LLP, will be speaking at ACI’s 12 National Forum on ERISA Litigation, Monday, June 27 to Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at the Omni San Francisco in San Francisco, CA. In anticipation of the conference, check out our recent Q&A session with Michelle L. Roberts.

1. After Amara and Montanile, what is appropriate equitable relief?

Amara clarified that appropriate equitable remedies providing for make-whole relief include: injunctive relief, reformation, and estoppel. It also includes a surcharge remedy, which is monetary compensation for a loss resulting from a trustee’s breach of duty or to prevent the trustee’s unjust enrichment. Montanile confirmed that when it comes to an ERISA plan’s enforcement of a subrogation provision, if a plan participant dissipates the disputed funds on nontraceable items, a plan fiduciary cannot attach an equitable lien by agreement against a participant’s general assets.

2. How will the recovery of benefits by ERISA plans be affected by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Montanile?

Montanile requires benefit plans to increase their monitoring of claims in which they have a subrogation or reimbursement interest. Benefit plans will also need to act expeditiously in enforcing their reimbursement rights because a participant’s dissipation of funds may thwart the plans’ ability to collect.

3. With reference to attorney’s fees, how do you decide what work is reasonably necessary to manage a case?

From a plaintiffs’ attorney’s perspective, I find that all of the time I spend managing a case is reasonably necessary, or else I wouldn’t do it. Most, if not all, of the work we do is based on a contingency fee so we have every incentive to litigate a case as efficiently and effectively as possible.

4. What are some tips for navigating ethical grey areas in ERISA litigation?

If I’m not sure about the right thing to do in a given situation and I can’t readily find the answer reviewing the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct or case law, I reach out to other ERISA attorneys in order to brainstorm. More likely than not, someone else has encountered your exact scenario and has some tips.   671L16_header               When: Monday, June 27 to Tuesday, June 28, 2016 Where: The Omni San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco, CA Learn More: http:/  Follow Us on Twitter:  @ACIEmployment  To join the conversation use #ERISA