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Our Team James L. Griffith

James L. “Jim” Griffith, Jr. is a partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office and is a successful trial and appellate lawyer, board advisor, and deal/compliance advisor. Jim is an accomplished litigator in the ERISA and commercial litigation fields, and a leading lawyer for the health, life, and disability insurance industries. He is a staunch defender of companies and individuals alleged to have breached duties concerning pension/401(k) plans. Jim has vigorously defended his clients in dozens of class and individual actions alleging violations of civil RICO, denial of benefits under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B), breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA § 502(a)(3), violations of federal regulations, and violations of state statutory and common law including but not limited to state laws governing insurance bad faith  

Jim’s accomplishments in the employee benefits space include the following:

  • Secured the early dismissal of an individual action brought by beneficiaries seeking to preclude his client from denying life insurance benefits for lack of eligibility where the plan sponsor collected and forwarded premiums for ineligible coverage from its employee for a period of years. He persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm the dismissal.
  • Secured the early dismissal of a putative nationwide class action brought by healthcare providers who claimed members of the insurance industry caused them $5 billion+ in damages through a fraudulent conspiracy in violation of RICO. Jim argued the subsequent appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, a victory reported in The National Law Journal.  
  • Persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to affirm the dismissal of another putative nationwide class action brought on behalf of all salaried retirees of General Motors Corp., who claimed ERISA obligated their group life insurer to pay life insurance benefits allegedly and irrevocably promised to them for their lifetimes. 
  • Exposed Rule 11 violations in connection with the certification of a class of disability plan participants, leading to settlement on an individual rather than class basis.  

In addition to his ERISA practice, Jim represents and advises business owners, businesses, directors, officers, and professional service providers in various commercial matters, including:

  • Class and Collective Actions
  • Corporate-Related Litigation (D&O liability, equity holder disputes) 
  • Federal Antitrust & Competition Laws (Sherman Act, FTC Act, Lanham Act)
  • Federal Employment and Labor Laws (Title VII, FLSA, FCRA)
  • Federal Anti-Fraud/Crime Laws (RICO and Securities Exchange Act of 1934)
  • Medical Causation Cases (pharmaceutical and chemical)
  • Privacy & Data Security (HIPAA, FTC Act, Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, state laws)
  • Professional Liability (accountant and auditor)
  • Business Torts
  • Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Jim’s accomplishments in the commercial setting include the following:

  • Secured a defense verdict in a civil RICO case alleging private equity owners of a portfolio company improperly seized the founder’s shares in the company
  • Secured a defense verdict on behalf of a national food processing company in wage and hour litigation. The National Law Journal reported the victory. Jim has represented other employers in national wage and hour actions that were amicably resolved.

Board Advisor

Jim serves on the advisory committee of the board of a national non-profit organization. He advises on legal and non-legal matters. Jim’s clients retain him to conduct internal investigations and advise board members and executives on his findings.

Deal/Compliance Advisor 

Jim advises on M&A and other transactions to the extent they involve liability and/or compliance issues arising under ERISA, MEPAA (withdrawal liability), and HIPAA. He identifies risks, liabilities, and obligations arising from the proposed transactions, conducts due diligence, and revises deal documents. Jim also drafts and negotiates business associate agreements.  

When not in the office, Jim is a big fan of the University of Michigan and Philadelphia-based sports teams.  His refuge lies on the beaches of North and South Carolina and he enjoys reading about brave Americans who fought for their country.  Interesting to note, he has written over fifty songs and accompanies himself on guitar. Jim and his wife have been married for more than twenty years and are the proud parents of three children.

ABA Business Law Spring Meeting

April 4-6, 2024, Orlando, Florida – James L. Griffith, Jr., partner in the Philadelphia office, will be attending the spring meeting of the Business Law section of the American Bar Association in…

Life, Health, Disability & ERISA

March 20, 2024 – Experienced ERISA and health insurance attorney James L. Griffith, Jr., a partner in Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s Philadelphia office, will be joined by in-house counsel to co-present on…

Project Magis Networking Event

Louis Rizzo, Harris Chernow and James Griffith, partners at the firm’s Philadelphia office, will be attending the Project Magis Fifth Annual Cocktail Reception in support of the developmental programs offered through Catholic…

CLE Course – The Hartford’s Specialty Coverage Unit

On Friday, September 22, 2023, Philadelphia partner James L. Griffith, Jr., presented a web-based CLE/CE course to insurance industry professionals entitled Did Someone Just E-Steal My 401(k)? A Look at Cyber &…

Private Directors Association

James Griffith, partner at the firm’s Philadelphia office, will be serving on the Private Directors Association panel on Thursday, September 21, 2023, in Malvern, Pennsylvania. This panel offers practical insight into the…

Medical/Dental Insurance

  • A putative nationwide class action alleging the health insurer conspired with other health insurers to deny or delay payment to healthcare providers, in alleged violation of civil RICO
  • A putative nationwide class action alleging the dental insurer conspired with other dental insurers to deny or delay payment to dentists, in alleged violation of civil RICO
  • A putative class action alleging the health insurer conspired with other health insurers to extort ambulance companies, in alleged violation of civil RICO
  • An action brought by a dental association alleging the dental insurer’s provider agreements unlawfully capped the amounts in-network dentists could charge for non-covered services
  • A class action alleging the health insurer-imposed coverage limitations for treatment of mental health conditions, in alleged violation of mental health parity and other laws
  • A putative class action brought by subscribers claiming the HMO’s alleged failure to disclose payments of incentives to doctors to ration care violated ERISA
  • Multiple actions brought by healthcare providers, participants, and beneficiaries who alleged, for example, that the defendants:
    • Misused their market and/or economic power
    • Misrepresented coverage or benefits
    • Lacked an adequate network
    • Made incorrect coverage determinations concerning both medical and mental health benefits
    • Asserted inapplicable exclusions
    • Used undisclosed guidelines or criteria in making medical and mental health benefit determinations
    • Misapplied guidelines or criteria in making medical and mental health benefit determinations
    • Misused automated claims processing platforms and software by, e.g., adding bundling and downcoding edits
    • Unlawfully delayed claim processing
    • Did not comply with state insurance and prompt payment laws
    • Failed to honor assignments of benefits

Life Insurance

  • A nationwide class action brought by group life insurance beneficiaries claiming the company did not properly calculate delayed settlement interest, in alleged violation of federal law
  • A putative nationwide class action brought by ERISA plan participants claiming the company breached an alleged promise to provide group life insurance benefits for the rest of their lives, in alleged violation of ERISA and state law
  • An “employer error” action brought by beneficiaries who alleged that the employer’s collection of premiums for an ineligible dependent prevented the company from denying coverage based on lack of eligibility
  • An “employer error” action brought by beneficiaries who alleged that the company was obligated to provide a higher level of life insurance benefits notwithstanding that the employer failed to record the insured’s election of the higher amount and did not secure evidence of insurability
  • An individual action involving a drug/alcohol exclusion in a group ADD policy
  • Multiple interpleader actions in federal and state courts

Disability Insurance

  • A putative class action brought by beneficiaries claiming the company failed to honor an alleged cost of living adjustment provision in the group disability policy
  • Multiple individual actions alleging that the company improperly denied disability benefits or failed to conform to federal regulations governing the denial of disability benefits

Fiduciary/Pension Plan Litigation

  • A “stock drop” case alleging breach of ERISA fiduciary duties 
  • Actions involving withdrawal liability under Multi-Employer Pension Plan Act (represented both plaintiff and defendant) 
  • Representation of the plaintiff in an action against a 401(k) plan fiduciary; secured full benefits, interest, and attorneys’ fees in a settlement

Commercial Litigation

  • A federal court action in which former CEO of a portfolio company alleged that the private equity firm unlawfully terminated him and took his stock in the portfolio company, in alleged violation of civil RICO and other laws
  • Representation of the plaintiff in an antitrust action against the NFL
  • An action in which a vendor of a healthcare system accused a Big 4 Accounting/Consulting firm and its professionals of defamation during an investigation conducted at the request of the healthcare system 
  • Representation of the plaintiff in a lender liability action against a bank
  • An action in which the purchaser of LLC interests alleged the sellers failed to disclose environmental liability
  • An action in which a global beverage company demanded an injunction against its supplier
  • Representation of the plaintiff in an action against a P&C carrier for unlawful denial of a defense

Wage & Hour

  • An action alleging a Fortune 100/Global 500 food processing company did not properly pay for alleged donning and doffing time
  • An action alleging a restaurant franchisee and the franchisor acted as “joint-employer” and alleging the franchisee did not properly pay for alleged non-tipped work

Jim was honored as one of the 2019 Support Center for Child Advocates’ Distinguished Advocates, an award celebrating the extraordinary efforts of people who devote countless hours to improving the lives of abused and neglected children throughout the Philadelphia Region. 

  • DRI, Member, Life, Health, Disability & ERISA Committee
  • DRI,  Chair of Online Community, DRI’s Life, Health, Disability & ERISA Committee, 2018-2023