The More Information ERISA Litigators Have, the Better

An ERISA litigator weighs in on whether information from a new analytics tool would be helpful to attorneys and their plan sponsor clients.

By Rebecca Moore | May 01, 2017
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If you’re a retirement plan sponsor facing an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) lawsuit, you want an attorney well-versed in your type of ERISA case, but you may also want an attorney with some “insider” information.

To that end, Bloomberg Law launched a number of new labor and employment tools and resources on its Labor & Employment Practice Center. The tools aim to give attorneys and their clients clear and powerful insights into the way U.S. federal courts interpret and decide ERISA litigation. 

For example, the Litigation Analytics tool helps users craft litigation strategies and understand potential impacts specific judges and courts can have in the labor and employment space. A snapshot of the type of information included in the tool provided by Bloomberg shows Southern District of Texas Judge Lee Rosenthal grants motions for summary judgement 10% more often in ERISA cases than Northern District of Illinois Judge Harry Leinenweber. The judges grant such motions 60% and 50% of the time, respectively, the tools show. 

Another interesting example: Middle District of Florida Judge John Steele takes the shortest average length of time to decide ERISA cases, at 234 days.

In addition to the data on specific judges’ tendencies for granting summary judgement and the time it takes to close litigation, Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics tool allows users to see trends in appeals outcomes; review past appeals attempts; and track appearances and case types. Users can also evaluate how many times a law firm or company has appeared before a particular judge.

The tools show Judge Jack Weinstein in the Eastern District of New York has been almost four times more likely to deny a motion to dismiss in full than Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York. And, Judge Leonard Stark in the District of Delaware had the busiest bench of the judges sampled over the past five years: the top three firms appearing before him appeared a total of 1,050 times.

Jo-el Meyer, managing editor for labor & employment, benefits and HR news, at Bloomberg Law, who is based in Arlington, Virginia, tells PLANSPONSOR, “We feel that for litigators to get an edge up and be better at their business, they need information about judges and how courts have handled cases. The Litigation Analytics tool was designed to enable litigators to look at judges’ histories of opinions, to see litigation results. Also how long a trial takes will tell them what resources to invest.”

Meyer says it may also help plan sponsors find an attorney. By using the tool, they can see what law firms handle ERISA cases and the outcomes firms have had.

NEXT: How information helps attorneys and their clients