Photo of Robert W. Rachal

Robert W. Rachal is of counsel in the New Orleans, Louisiana, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on complex ERISA fiduciary, benefits, and executive compensation litigation, including defending DOL investigations, and on advising ERISA fiduciaries.

Robert's work has included advising fiduciaries and defending, across the country, companies, plan providers and plan fiduciaries in all types of complex ERISA litigation, e.g., from claims ESOP stock was overvalued, to claims 401(k) fees were excessive, or that pension plans owed greater benefits under complex provisions of ERISA. His work also includes advising and consulting on issues that arise in complex ERISA litigation and benefits claim processing and in disputed over executive benefits. Representative recent matters include:

  • Defended several Catholic health care organizations against claims their multi-billion dollar pension plans did not qualify for the “church plan” exemption to ERISA. Motion to dismiss granted, which ruling was subsequently quoted and adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Advocate v. Stapleton, 137 S. Ct. 1652 (2017)).
  • Defended seller/ESOP trustee in claim ESOP paid too much for $1 billion hotel company. Favorable summary judgment and Daubert rulings for defendants led to amicable settlement.
  • Defended company against class action claiming company illegally cutback pension benefits in a cash balanced conversion. Motion to dismiss granted and affirmed on appeal.

Robert’s clients include both Fortune 500 companies and small and mid-size employers.

He is a prolific writer and lecturer on cutting-edge ERISA litigation and fiduciary issues, including for the ABA and Bloomberg BNA.

Robert was the senior articles editor of Tulane Law Review while attending law school. After law school he clerked for Judge Jacques Wiener of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Metzgar v. U.A. Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 22 Pension Fund, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 5466 (2d Cir. Mar. 2, 2022), the Second Circuit in a summary order affirmed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of plan trustees regarding the trustees’ reinterpretation of what “retire” means under the terms of

On March 4, 2022, the District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, ERISA claims brought by a former employee who retired early at the age of 62 and receives retirement benefits in the form of a joint and survivor annuity. Belknap v. Partners Healthcare Sys., No.

In Avenoso v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, No. 21-1772, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 35264 (8th Cir. Nov. 30, 2021), the Eighth Circuit clarified its position in a circuit split over the proper judicial procedure for deciding ERISA benefits cases.

The underlying case concerned the defendant’s denial of long-term disability benefits under an ERISA

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued its cybersecurity guidance for employee retirement plans and updated its audit inquiries to include compliance with these guidelines, a federal court in Chicago ruled an employee benefit services provider must comply with a subpoena requesting, among other things, documents and

In an order issued on October 15, 2021, United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash from the Northern District of Georgia granted an employer’s Motion for Summary Judgment and ruled that plaintiff’s separation agreement with a release and covenant not to sue precluded him from bringing an ERISA class action for breach of fiduciary duties


On March 27, 2020, the Eighth Circuit in Sanzone v. Mercy Health, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9537 (8th Cir. March 27, 2020), ruled on several key issues on the “church plan” exemption to ERISA.  As background, beginning in 2013, plaintiff’s counsel filed ERISA class-action cases across the country challenging the application of ERISA’s