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Daniel E. Wille has a substantive practice in employee benefits and a developed concentration in ERISA litigation. He has provided ERISA counsel on all aspects of employee benefits arising in the context of corporate acquisitions and spinoffs, collective bargaining, and employee agreements and terminations, as well as in traditional ERISA areas such as plan design, administration, and fiduciary duties relating to both pension and employee welfare benefit plans.

Since 1985, Dan has focused on ERISA litigation involving benefit claims and fiduciary liability claims against plan sponsors, ERISA plans, and third-party administrators. He has handled hundreds of cases and has a nationwide practice. Some representative ERISA cases Dan has handled are presented below.

ERISA Class Actions

  • Schmalz v. Sovereign Bancorp, et al.: Class action ESOP stock drop case alleging fiduciary failure to sell company stock before subprime crisis affected value.  Motion to dismiss granted.
  • Burstein v. Retirement Account Plan for Employees of Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation: Class action alleging various breaches of ERISA fiduciary duties relating to information provided to participants about pension benefits of cash balance plan prior to the bankruptcy of employer.
  • Gavini v. Nicholadis: Action alleging that defendants breached their ERISA fiduciary duty in failing to make contributions to a 401(k) plan as promised from 1992 until the company declared bankruptcy.
  • Selby v. Principal Insurance Company: Class action sought certification of a nationwide action challenging the processing practices of the company based upon diagnoses.
  • Sloter v. Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania: Challenged the practice of the defendant to deny medical benefit coverage for GIFT or in vitro fertilization procedures.
  • In Re Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania Litigation: Allegations that defendant had failed to properly calculate co-insurance obligations of participants for medical benefits received as well as annual and life time maximums.  The case involved the production of over 100,000 documents in hardcopy and/or electronic media.
  • Turpin v. Highmark: Plaintiffs challenged the adequacy of all explanation of benefit notices sent to plan participants under Department of Labor regulations.
  • Ammerman v. Prudential Insurance Company: Purported national class action challenging medical underwriting of individuals.

Reported ERISA Decisions

  • Sun Sun Lin v. Mellon Long Term Disability Plan, 2010: Claim for long term disability benefits and challenging administrative procedures of the ERISA plan.  Summary judgment granted client and affirmed on appeal.
  • Miller v. Mellon Long Term Disability Plan, 2010: Claim for long term disability benefits and challenging administrative procedures of the plan.  Summary judgment granted client.
  • Howley v. Mellon Financial Corp. et al., 2008: Claim for displacement program benefits upon sale of business sector.  Summary judgment granted plaintiff and affirmed on appeal.
  • Olivet Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Reading and Berks Cty. v. Wachovia Bank, 2009: Claim that client breached fiduciary duties under ERISA and common law, misrepresented information and violated Securities Exchange Act § 10(b) in investing in an Evergreen Ultra Short Opportunities Fund which was liquidated in 2008.  Motion to dismiss was granted with prejudice on all counts in favor of client.
  • Cappuccio v. Pfizer, Inc., 2007: Numerous claims for benefits and rights under stock option plans by terminated employee.  Summary judgment granted client on all counts.
  • Weaver v. Retirem’t Plan for Employees of Hanson Build. and Materials Amer. Inc., 2009: Claim for pension by employee based upon post-termination amendments to the ERISA plan’s terms.  Court determined that an hour of service was not required in order to accrue a benefit in an hours of service defined benefit plan, where employee ceased work in 1965.
  • Plan Administrator and Limbach Holdings, Inc. Profit Sharing Ret. Plan v. Kienast, 2008: Client plan filed claim against participant to recover lump sum distribution made in error.  Summary judgment granted client ERISA plan.
  • Schreibeis v. Retirem’t Plan for Employees of Duquesne Light Co., 2007: Claim for disability retirement from ERISA defined benefit plan.  Settled after successful dismissal of claimant’s appeal.
  • Benamara v. Plan Administrators of Mellon Long Term Disability Plan, 2007: Claim for long term disability benefits and allegations of ERISA fiduciary breach of duties.  Summary judgment granted clients.  Case settled for nuisance during mediation on appeal.
  • Akrom v. Polley, BP Oil Co. et al., 2006: Claim by spouse that spousal waiver and payment of lump sum defined pension benefit were based on forged signature.  Summary judgment granted client.
  • Cerneskie v. Mellon Bank Long Term Disability Plan, 2004: Claim for long term disability benefits.  Summary judgment granted client and affirmed on appeal.
  • Degroot v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and Lucent Tech. Inc., 2004: Claim for life insurance benefits from ERISA plan, based on right of conversion.  Summary judgment granted clients and affirmed on appeal.
  • Petroff v. Verizon North, Inc. Long Term Disability Income Plan, 2004: Claim for long term disability benefits.  Settled during appeal.
  • Talasnik v. Mellon Bank, et al., 2002 and 2003: Claim for long term disability benefits.  Summary judgment granted clients.
  • Nydes v. Equitable Resources, Inc., 2002: Claim for enhanced pension benefits based upon failure to provide notice of subsequent ERISA plan changes.  Summary judgment for client affirmed on appeal.
  • Davis v. Armco, Inc., 2001: Dispute as to which surviving spouse was entitled to pension.  Court held in favor of first marriage.
  • Delta Star v. Patton, 1999: Claim by client ESOP against plan fiduciary, alleging breaches of ERISA fiduciary duty.  Judgment against fiduciary and in favor of client ESOP.
  • Hornfeck v. Duquesne Light Company, 1998: ADEA claim.  Summary judgment for client, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Walsh, 1995: Client sought declaratory judgment that Pa. statute, that voided beneficiary designations in favor of spouses upon divorce, was preempted by ERISA.  Declaratory judgment granted, holding state law preempted by ERISA.
  • Martin v. Masco Industries, Inc., 1990: Claim for medical benefits under ERISA plan.  Summary judgment for client plan.

During law school, Dan was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law and Commerce at the University of Pittsburgh. 

PROFESSIONAL AND COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS

  • Member, Lutheran SeniorLife Foundation

PUBLICATIONS AND PRESS

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS