James Napoli is a Senior Counsel in the Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation Practice Center and head of the Health Care Reform Task Force, resident in the Washington, DC office.
Jim counsels employers on all aspects of their employee benefit programs and provides advice on matters affecting tax-qualified retirement plans such as: 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans, including cash balance plans; executive compensation plans; and welfare benefit plans. He is recognized by US Legal 500 as a leading lawyer in his field.
Jim also maintains an active controversy practice that includes advising clients on ERISA fiduciary matters and related litigation, as well as government compliance. His litigation experience encompasses matters involving: claims to benefits under pension plans, long-term disability plans, employer sponsored medical plans, and general insurance contracts; claims for breach of fiduciary duty and fiduciary misrepresentation under pension plans, long-term disability plans, and employer sponsored medical plans; and the defense of actions raising ESOP valuation issues, defined contribution account balance valuation issues, executive compensation issues, ERISA §510 claims, and preemption issues. Jim also has brought claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and reimbursement on behalf of his ERISA party clients.
Jim served as counsel of record on an amicus brief filed with the US Supreme Court on behalf of the American Benefits Council in the pending healthcare reform litigation. He also participated in the settlement of Chrysler’s nearly $10 billion retiree medical obligation with the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.
In addition to his advisory and controversy practice, Jim partners with clients to assist them in the design, implementation and maintenance of their employee benefit programs. This includes assisting clients in managing third-party service provider relationships; counseling clients on the implementation of fiduciary hierarchies to achieve optimum administrative efficiencies and protections; and counseling clients on ongoing compliance issues. He negotiates administrative services agreements, investment management agreements, and various other forms of agreements that establish relationships between employers, ERISA fiduciaries, employer sponsored plans and their service providers.
He also is experienced in representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. This experience includes his work on the Chrysler retiree medical prohibited transaction exemption that was issued by the Department of Labor.
Jim lectures to DC-area and regional bar associations regarding various employee benefit matters and he has also addressed professional groups regarding employee benefit matters. Jim is a member of the Health and Welfare Task Force of the American Benefits Council. He is a contributing author to the 4th edition of The New Health Care Reform Law – What Employers Need to Know (A Q&A Guide), published by Thompson Information Services.