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EMILY CATHERINE HOOTKINS, ESQ.

Sr. Associate at Alston & Bird LLP

Emily’s track record of prevailing in ERISA litigation cases is why clients rely on her for counsel on regulatory compliance issues, dispute resolution, and insight to avoid future litigation. Her clients include employers, plan sponsors, and fiduciaries. She dedicates her time to pro bono services with the same tenacity.

EXPERIENCE

  • Obtained dismissal of all claims in a putative class action challenging a service provider’s fee-sharing arrangement with Financial Engines. The plaintiffs alleged fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction claims related to the service provider’s receipt of fees from Financial Engines, claiming that such fees were impermissible kickbacks for including Financial Engines as an investment adviser available through the recordkeeping platform. Our motion to dismiss was granted in its entirety, and the plaintiffs were denied further leave to amend. Chendes v. Xerox HR Solutions LLC, No. 2:16-cv-13980 (E.D. Mich.). 
  • Obtained dismissal of all claims in a putative class action alleging that the 401(k) plan at issue included investments that were both more expensive and more poorly performing than comparable investment options. The court found that the plaintiffs did not have standing because they failed to allege that they invested in the criticized investment funds or paid the fees that they claimed were excessive. The plaintiffs did not file an appeal. Johnson v. Delta Air Lines Inc., et al., No. 1:17-cv-02608 (N.D. Ga.). 
  • Prevailed on a motion to compel arbitration in an action seeking damages in connection with the distribution of money from a joint account. Modares v. Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, No. 14-A-1178 (State Ct. Cobb Co., Ga.). 
  • Prevailed on a motion for summary judgment in a dispute brought by a former American Basketball Association player regarding claims for pension benefits under the American Basketball Association Players’ Retirement Plan. The court determined that the committee’s benefit decision was both de novo correct and not arbitrary and capricious. The court also found that there was no breach of fiduciary duty and no basis to award statutory penalties based on the alleged failure to provide an earlier version of the plan document. Gilmore v. American Basketball Association Players’ Retirement Plan, No. 3:15-cv-00337 (M.D. Fla.). 
  • Prevailed on a motion for final judgment on the administrative record on behalf of The Prudential Insurance Company of America in a case involving accidental death benefits. The court granted judgment in Prudential’s favor on the breach of fiduciary duty claim because Prudential did not have a duty to inform the plaintiff of changes to the plan. The court also granted judgment in Prudential’s favor on the benefits claim, supporting Prudential’s application of a legal intoxication exclusion. Winburn v. Progress Energy Carolinas Inc., et al., No. 4:11-cv-03527 (D.S.C.).
  • Prevailed on a motion to dismiss for an insurance company in a dispute involving the tax reporting of short-term disability benefits. This decision was affirmed on appeal. Stansel v. City of Atlanta, et al., No. 14-11232 (11th Cir.). 
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of all claims against a mortgage processing company in a putative class action alleging that the fiduciaries of the plan breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA by failing to withdraw company stock as an investment option once it became an imprudent investment and by misrepresenting and failing to disclose the true risks associated with investing in the company stock. Zimlich v. Lender Processing Services Inc., et al., No. 3:13-cv-00205 (M.D. Fla.). 
  • Prevailed at trial while representing a pro bono client in an action for return of a security deposit, winning an award for the full security deposit plus attorneys’ fees and costs.