Photo of René E. Thorne

René E. Thorne is co-leader of the firm's ERISA Complex Litigation group, and is a principal in the New Orleans, Louisiana office of Jackson Lewis P.C. René started the New Orleans office and was the managing principal for ten years.

Her national practice covers the full range of complex benefit litigation matters, including representation of employers, plans, plan fiduciaries, third party administrators, and trustees. In that regard, she has handled numerous ERISA class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty; breach of the duty of loyalty; prohibited transactions; 401(k) plan asset performance, fees, and expense issues; defined benefit plan asset issues, accrual issues, and cut-back issues; cash balance plan issues; ESOP litigation; fiduciary misrepresentation claims; sophisticated preemption issues; executive compensation litigation, both pension and welfare claims; retiree rights litigation; severance plan claims; Section 510 cases; and complex benefit claim cases.

During the course of her national practice, she has been admitted pro hac vice in courts across the country, including Alabama, the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

René also has been retained in complex ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, prohibited transaction, and cash balance cases. René has been qualified and testified on ERISA matters in federal court.

René is active on the Employee Benefits Subcommittee of the Labor and Employment Section of the American Bar Association, and was a management co-chair of the Employee Benefits Subcommittee Newsletter. She is a past instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and a former barrister in the Thomas More Inn of Court.

While attending Loyola University School of Law, René was a member of the Loyola Law Review and Moot Court.

Since the Supreme Court’s January ruling in Hughes v. Northwestern University, circuit courts throughout the country have issued varying rulings regarding 401(k) fee litigation cases. These include the Ninth Circuit in Trader Joe’s Co. and Salesforce.com, Inc., and the Sixth Circuit in CommonSpirit Health, Inc. and TriHealth, Inc.  Most recently, the Seventh Circuit

The U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392 (June 24, 2022), overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, has far-reaching consequences across many areas. This special report examines the potential impact Dobbs will have on employee benefits litigation.

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A New York district court recently dismissed, without prejudice, a 401(k) plan participant’s putative class action complaint alleging breaches of fiduciary duty. The plaintiff alleged that the plan fiduciary-defendants breached their duties of prudence and loyalty by failing to properly monitor the plan’s costs. Cunningham v. USI Ins. Servs., LLC, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Hughes v. Northwestern University, No. 19-1401, just one of more than 150 similar class action suits filed around the country in the last few years. The case was brought by retirement plan participants alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties under ERISA relating to recordkeeping and

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hughes v. Northwestern University, No. 19-1401, just one of about 150 similar class action suits filed around the country in the last few years. The case was brought by retirement plan participants alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties under ERISA relating to recordkeeping and investment fees

American Airlines, Inc. and its affiliated credit union recently defeated an appeal challenging a low-yield investment option in the airline’s 401(k) plan when the Fifth Circuit ruled that the plan participants lacked Article III standing to bring their ERISA claims.

In 2016, the plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of a putative class of nearly 20,000

On July 16, 2021, the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin dismissed without prejudice four ERISA claims brought by a former employee alleging mismanagement of Infinity’s defined-contribution 401(k) plan. Plaintiff’s two Fair Labor Standards Act claims were not at issue and remain pending.

Plaintiff alleged that plan fiduciaries violated their fiduciary duties by

The Supreme Court recently granted the writ of certiorari requested by Northwestern University retirement plan participants, following the Solicitor General’s plea for the Court to hear the case.  Hughes v. Northwestern Univ., No. 19-1401, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 3583 (July 2, 2021). The certiorari petition phrased the question presented as: “[w]hether allegations that a defined-contribution

In Bellon v. PPG Emp. Life & Other Benefits Plan, PPG Industries, Inc. & the PPG Plan Administrator, the Northern District of West Virginia recently addressed whether a predecessor company may be held liable for a decision made by its corporate successor to terminate retiree life insurance coverage and related benefits following spin-off.

The

On appeal following a bench trial of claims brought by a class of participants and beneficiaries of a 401(k) plan, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision of the District of Colorado calculating damages and prejudgment interest, denying injunctive relief, and finding the employer did not engage in a “prohibited transaction” under ERISA Section 406, 29