Steve is a partner in the Minneapolis Trial Group and Co-Chair of the ERISA Litigation Practice Group. He was previously Chair of the Health Litigation Practice Group, and Co-Chair of the Minneapolis Trial Group.
Education & Admissions
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.), magna cum laude; Managing Editor, Georgetown Law Journal
College of the Holy Cross (A.B., Economics), magna cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa; Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society
- Mediator and arbitrator qualified under State ADR Rule 114 (Civil Roster)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Hon. Myron H. Bright
- Obtained dismissal of claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty in the selection of allegedly expensive, underperforming 401(k) investment options). Schave v. CentraCare Health Sys., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13786 (D. Minn. Jan. 27, 2023).
- Obtained dismissal of claims alleging that pharmacy breached state common law duties for refusing to fill a prescription for ivermectin to treat COVID-19. See Salier v. Walmart, Inc., No. 22-CV-0082 (PJS/ECW), 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148684 (D. Minn. Aug. 19, 2022).
- Won summary judgment in class action challenging offsets to pension benefits. See Leighton v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60211 (D. Minn. Mar. 31, 2022).
- Lead counsel in obtaining dismissal of class action claims filed by ERISA defined benefit plan participants against fiduciaries and major financial institution alleging losses of $750 million arising from investment of assets exclusively in equities and in proprietary funds. See Thole v. U.S. Bank, et al., 873 F.3d 617 (8th Cir. Oct. 12, 2017), which was affirmed 5-4 by the United States Supreme Court on Article III standing grounds. Thole v. U.S. Bank N.A., 140 S. Ct. 1615 (2020).
- Lead counsel in successfully defending pharmacy benefit service provider against class action claims on behalf of individuals who purchased the EpiPen auto-injector device, securing dismissal after obtaining rulings denying transfer to multi-district litigation; dismissing ERISA prohibited transaction claims; and denying certification of nationwide class. In re EpiPen ERISA Litig., 341 F. Supp. 3d 1015 (D. Minn. 2018); In re EpiPen ERISA Litig., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139066 (D. Minn. Aug. 5, 2020).
- Lead counsel in obtaining dismissal of ERISA class action claims that directors and ESOP trustees of Lifetouch, Inc., breached their fiduciary duties with respect to the valuation of the company’s stock. See Vigeant v. Meek, 352 F. Supp. 3d 890 (D. Minn. 2018), aff’d, 953 F.3d 1022 (8th Cir. 2020).
- Lead counsel in obtaining dismissal of class action claims against sponsor and fiduciaries of 401(k) plan alleging ERISA violations in Plan’s use of mutual funds managed by sponsor’s affiliate. See Meiners v. Wells Fargo & Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80606 (D. Minn. May 25, 2017), aff’d, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21624 (8th Cir. Aug. 3, 2018).
- Lead counsel for over 250 health plans and TPA, obtaining dismissal of “mass action” fiduciary and statutory claims seeking $70 million for Lap-Band services. Almont Ambulatory Care Center v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., 99 F. Supp.3d 1110 (C.D. Cal. 2015). Prosecuting counterclaim to recover amounts paid to Lap-Band providers due to copay waiver scheme and other fraud. 121 F. Supp.3d 950 (C.D. Cal. 2015); 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183363, 183364, 183365 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 23, 2015); defense judgment affirmed, 2019 WL 2448325 (9th Circuit, June 11, 2019).
- Defended against class action alleging violations of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and Affordable Care Act, New York State Psychiatric Ass’n v. UnitedHealth, 980 F. Supp. 2d 527 (S.D.N.Y. 2013), rev’d in part and aff’d in part, 798 F.3d 125 (2nd Cir.), cert denied, 136 S. Ct 317 (2015), as well as obtained dismissal of class claims alleging violations of state statutes regarding patient responsibility for chiropractic services against five health insurers. Larson v. United Healthcare Ins. Co., 723 F.3d 905 (7th Cir. 2013) (affirming dismissal of class claims alleging violations of state statutes regarding patient responsibility for chiropractic services against five health insurers).
- Won affirmance of judgment against defendant class of 2,500 airline pilots declaring that post-bankruptcy target benefit plan complied with benefit accrual provisions under Americans with Disabilities Act and ERISA. Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Phillips, 675 F.3d 1126 (8th Cir. 2012).
- After commencing declaratory judgment action and bringing preliminary injunction motion, successfully resolved contract dispute between copyright owner of psychological tests and foreign business that translated and adapted those tests for the Spanish market.
- Defended against class action claims that scanning errors caused thousands of SAT scores to be incorrect. Russo v. NCS Pearson and the College Board, 462 F. Supp. 2d 981 (D. Minn. 2006).
- Obtained orders after TTAB trials declaring trademark registration rights in favor of client. OTI v. GE Osmonics, Inc., 2004 TTAB Lexis 188 (March 30, 2004), 2004 TTAB Lexis 30 (Jan. 29, 2004) Trademark Trial & Appeal Board.
- In challenging “proprietary” funds offered by affiliates of financial institutions, obtained dismissal of claims for lack of standing, Gipson v. Wells Fargo Company, 563 F. Supp. 2d 149 (D.D.C. 2008); as well as summary judgment on prohibited transaction claim and denial of motion for mandatory class. Id. 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79965 (D. Minn. Apr. 6, 2010).
- Current and previous representation of employers against class actions seeking recovery of losses to 401(k) plan investments in company stock when employer’s share price fell, including in Hastings v. Gary Wilson, 516 F.3d 1055 (8th Cir. 2008); Morrison v. MoneyGram International, Inc., 607 F.Supp.2d 1033 (D. Minn. 2009); and In Re ADC Telecommunications ERISA Litigation, 2005 WL 2250782 (D. Minn. September 15, 2005).
- Obtained dismissal of class action claims alleging age discrimination in retirement plan design. Mitchell-White v. Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, 2011 WL 671630 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2011) aff'd, 446 Fed. App’x. 316 (2d Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 2432 (2012).
- Obtained reversal of district court decision and compelling arbitration of class challenge to “smoker’s exclusion” in business’s health plan. Franke v. Poly-America Medical and Dental Plan, 555 F.3d 656 (8th Cir. 2009).
- Defended sponsor in class action claim seeking retiree medical benefits under ERISA and the LMRA. Rexam Inc. v. United SteelWorkers of America, 2006 WL 2530384 (D. Minn. 2006) (granting summary judgment to Rexam with respect to the largest sub-classes or retirees).
- Represented employee association to recover wrongfully withheld premium reserve from insurer. 3M Employees' Benefit Trust Ass'n v. Connecticut General Life Ins. Co., 2003 WL 124027 (D. Minn. 2003).
- Obtained dismissal of claims that employer violated age discrimination prohibitions in design of pension plan. Mahoney v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 2004 WL 114946 (D. Minn.).
- Obtained judgments in favor of state insurance guaranty funds in disputes involving claims and assessments, Wisconsin Insurance Security Fund v. Wisconsin Reinsurance Corporation, 704 N.W. 2d 44 (Wis. App. 2005); Minnesota Insurance Guaranty Association 697 N.W. 2d 223 (Minn. App. 2005).
- Obtained summary judgment and denial of class certification on behalf of fiduciaries in nationwide class action seeking interest on payments of benefits under welfare plan. Jackson v. Fortis Benefits Insurance Company, 105 F. Supp. 1055 (D. Minn. 2000), aff’d, 245 F.3d 748 (8th Cir. 2001).
- Represented employer and fiduciaries in defense against nationwide class action brought by over 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors seeking reclassification as employees and inclusion in ERISA benefit plans and other damages. Lambert v. American Express, Civ. No. 99-CV-493 (D. Minn.).
- Defended the trustees of the Minneapolis Employees Retirement Fund against claims by the sponsors and a class of participants, alleging that investments in junk bonds and other speculative ventures caused the fund over $100 million in losses.
- Represented various insurers and businesses in responding to civil investigation demands and administrative subpoenas.
- Obtained summary judgment for major bank and fiduciaries on fiduciary, discrimination, and RICO claims brought by 67 former employees, who alleged that a series of complex corporate transactions and downsizing decisions entitled them to over $50 million in severance pay and other damages.
- Represented various contractors and public authorities in bid protests and other disputes regarding public contracts.
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
Events & Speaking Engagements
- Benefits Briefing Webinar: Benefits Litigation Update, American Benefits Council (March 2021).
- Benefit Plan “Discrimination” Issues, 34th Annual Advanced Employee Benefits Workshop (February 2014).
- ERISA Litigation Update, MSBA Advanced Employee Benefits Seminar (February 2012).
- Retirement Plan Litigation: Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead, Midwest Pension Conference (March 2011).
- Fiduciary Exposure: Is the Landscape Changing, Professional Liability Underwriter's Society (PLUS) Symposium, Atlanta, Georgia (May 2008).
- 401(k) Fees: Risks and Steps to Reduce Exposure, Minneapolis Pension Council (November 2007).
Industries & Practices
- Banking & Financial Institutions
- Benefits & Compensation
- Class Action Litigation
- Commercial Litigation
- Educational Publishing, Technology & Services
- Energy & Natural Resources
- ERISA Litigation
- Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Healthcare Litigation
- Insurance Law
- Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement
Professional & Civic
- Member, U.S. Magistrate Judge Reappointment Panel
- Member, American Bar Association (Section of Labor and Employment, Subcommittee on Employee Benefits, Past Co-Chair, Ethics Committee)
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association and Hennepin County Bar Association
- Member, United States District Court Magistrate Judge Reappointment Panel
- Past Board Member and Officer, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, House of Charity, and various community, non-profit and bar organizations
- Pro Bono Work: Representation in foster care proceedings of children, young adults and Native American communities
- Rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell® - 2023 Judicial Edition
- Rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell® - 2023
- Named one of “America’s Leading Business Lawyers” by Chambers USA (ERISA Litigation), 2018-2023
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America©, 2010-2023
- Recognized as a "Local Litigation Star – Minnesota" by Benchmark Litigation, 2022
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue, 2021
- Named Best Lawyers'® Lawyer of the Year, Litigation - ERISA, 2013 and 2017
- Contributed more than 100 Challenge pro bono hours, 2022
- Contributed more than 50 Challenge pro bono hours, 2020-2021
- MSBA North Star Lawyer, 2012, 2015, 2017-2018 and 2020