Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Russell Hirschhorn

Russell Hirschhorn

Partner

Russell L. Hirschhorn represents plan fiduciaries, trustees, sponsors and service providers on the full range of ERISA and state law benefit and fiduciary issues. From single plaintiff to litigation and arbitration to complex class action litigation, he provides practical guidance, develops unique litigation defense strategies and, when appropriate, mediates successful resolutions.

Russell represents clients across a wide array of publicly-held, multi-national companies and privately owned companies across a multitude of industries including, banking, finance and investments, pharmaceuticals, retail products and construction, to name just a few. In addition, he also counsels benefit plan clients on a host of compliance and federal and state government agency enforcement matters, including complex and lengthy investigations and audits by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor.

Russell is management co-chair of the American Bar Association Employee Benefits Committee. He also writes on cutting-edge ERISA litigation issues, serving as the co-editor of the Firm’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog and as a contributing author and a past chapter editor to Employee Benefits Law (BNA Third Edition).

Subscribe to all posts by Russell Hirschhorn

As DOL Fiduciary Rule is Officially Vacated, Focus Shifts to SEC

After nearly a decade in the making, the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule appears to be officially dead.  On June 21st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its mandate that finalized its earlier decision vacating the rule—discussed here.  Along with the regulation that expanded the definition of investment fiduciary, the mandate … Continue Reading

New DOL FAB Further Delays Enforcement of Fiduciary Rule, But Does Not Undo The Rule In Its Entirety

On May 7, 2018, the DOL issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (“FAB”) addressing the Department’s enforcement policy on the fiduciary rule that was recently vacated by the Fifth Circuit.  Although the DOL has elected not to continue defending the rule before the Fifth Circuit, the FAB leaves the rule’s status in a holding pattern. Rather … Continue Reading

Highlights from Proskauer’s Annual ERISAFEST Conference

Proskauer held its annual ERISAFEST conference on Thursday, April 26, bringing together over 200 legal counsel, plan fiduciaries and professionals involved in the administration of employee benefit plans to discuss recent developments and legal issues in the area of employee benefits. We were pleased to host a special lunch panel featuring Aliya Wong from the … Continue Reading

Confusion Ensues After Appeal Over Fiduciary Rule in D.C. Circuit Dropped

On March 23, 2018, the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) and the Department of Labor filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal of litigation involving the Department’s fiduciary rule in the District of Columbia Circuit.  NAFA had appealed a district court decision that dismissed NAFA’s challenge to the fiduciary rule.  The decision to drop that … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Vacates DOL Fiduciary Rule

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, including the expanded definition of “investment advice fiduciary” and the associated exemptions. The decision nullifies the Department’s 2016 regulation—at least in the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and arguably nationwide—but is not … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Upholds DOL’s Authority to Impose New Conditions for PTEs and Leaves Door Open for Changes to Fiduciary Rule

The Tenth Circuit recently affirmed the Department of Labor’s authority to impose new conditions for exemption from prohibited transaction rules with respect to the sale of annuity contracts. The case related to the Department’s decision, as part of the 2016 “fiduciary rule,” to make sales of fixed indexed annuities ineligible for Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24, … Continue Reading

Tackett Redux: Ordinary Principles of Contract Interpretation Mean No Inference of Vesting

In an opinion released yesterday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) must be interpreted according to “ordinary principles of contract law.” CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese, No. 17-515, 2018 WL 942419 (U.S. Feb. 20, 2018).  In so ruling, the Court again rejected the Sixth Circuit’s inference from silence that CBAs vested retiree … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Finalizes 18-Month Delay of Fiduciary Rule Exemptions

On November 27, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) finalized the delay of the applicability date for certain conditions for exemptions to the fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. This delay was initially proposed in late August as described here. Although certain requirements have been delayed, the fiduciary rule’s broad definition of “fiduciary” and the … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Officially Proposes Delaying Fiduciary Rule’s Exemptions for 18 Months

On August 30, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) officially proposed delaying the applicability date of exemptions to its fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. The proposal was expected after DOL stated in a court filing earlier this month that a delay proposal was under review by the Office of Management and Budget. This proposal … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Requests Additional 18-Month Delay of Certain Fiduciary Rule Requirements

On August 9, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) stated in a court filing that the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) is reviewing a proposal to extend the applicability date for certain requirements under DOL’s fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. As discussed here and here the fiduciary rule’s “impartial conduct standards” have been … Continue Reading

DOL Again Seeks Comments on New Fiduciary Rules and Exemptions

On June 29, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) requested another round of public comment on its fiduciary rule—this time in the form of a Request (“RFI”) for Information.  The RFI seeks input on (a) whether to extend the January 1, 2018, applicability date for parts of the rule that are not yet in effect, and … Continue Reading

Department of Labor’s New Fiduciary Rule Will Go Into Effect June 9th

The Department of Labor has announced that the new fiduciary conflict of interest rule and related exemptions will begin taking effect on June 9, 2017, ending speculation of further delay. At the same time, the Department announced a relaxed enforcement standard for the rest of 2017.  See our blog post on the delayed effective date … Continue Reading

DOL Fiduciary Rule Delayed, But At Least Parts Might Be Here to Stay

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule postponing applicability of the conflict of interest rule and related exemptions for sixty days, until June 9, 2017.  The stated purpose of the extension is to allow more time to:  (i) complete the examination required by President Trump’s February 3, 2017 memorandum, … Continue Reading

IRS Issues Temporary Enforcement Policy In Line with DOL FAB 2017-01

On the heels of the Department of Labor’s temporary enforcement policy concerning the DOL conflict of interest rule and related exemptions (see our blog post here), the IRS announced that it is providing relief from excise taxes under Code § 4975 that conforms to the DOL’s temporary enforcement policy described in FAB 2017-01. The IRS’s action … Continue Reading

No Emergency Injunction Appeal in Chamber’s Challenge to DOL Rule

On March 20, 2017, a federal court in the Northern District of Texas denied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal challenging implementation of the Department’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions. The court applied the standard for evaluating a preliminary injunction motion and concluded that: (i) the Department already … Continue Reading

U.S. DOL Proposes Delay of Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

On March 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a 60-day delay of the conflict of interest rule and related exemptions (currently set to be applicable on April 10, 2017). The Department opened two comment periods related to the rule: A 15-day comment period (ending March 17, 2017) on whether enforcement of the rule … Continue Reading

USDOL Prevails in Kansas in Another Decision on Fiduciary Rule

On February 17, 2017, a federal district Court in Kansas upheld the U.S. Department of Labor’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions in a suit brought by Market Synergy Group, Inc. This ruling on the merits follows the court’s prior ruling in November 2016 denying Market Synergy Group’s request for a temporary injunction.  The … Continue Reading

Update on the USDOL Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

There were two key developments last week concerning the ongoing challenges to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) conflict of interest rule and related exemptions:  a Presidential Memorandum calling for a review of the rule, and a ruling by a federal court in Texas rejecting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s challenges to the rule. Presidential … Continue Reading

D.C. Court of Appeals Denies Emergency Request to Halt Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the emergency request from the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) for an injunction blocking the implementation of the Department of Labor’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions.  Nat’l Ass’n for Fixed Annuities v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, … Continue Reading

DOL Prevails in Kansas Litigation Challenging Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

On November 28, 2016, Judge Crabtree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ruled in favor of the U.S. Department of Labor and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Market Synergy Group, Inc., challenging implementation of the Department’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions.  Mkt. Synergy Grp., … Continue Reading

DOL Prevails Again and NAFA Moves on to the Circuit Court Challenging the Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

On November 23, 2016, Judge Moss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia again ruled in favor of the Department and denied the renewed motion for a preliminary injunction brought by the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) challenging implementation of the Department’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions. Nat’l Ass’n … Continue Reading

DOL Prevails In First Challenge to the Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions

On November 4, 2016, Judge Moss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the U.S. Department of Labor’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed claims brought by the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) challenging the Department’s conflict of interest rule and related exemptions. Nat’l Ass’n for Fixed Annuities v. Perez, … Continue Reading

Update on Lawsuits Challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule

In this update on the litigation challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, we note that there has been a sixth lawsuit filed and oral arguments in two other cases.  (Our previous reports are available here, and our Client Alert on the new rule is available here.) Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Christian … Continue Reading
LexBlog