People: Kathleen Cahill Slaught, Partner

Photo of Kathleen Cahill  Slaught, Partner

Kathleen Cahill Slaught

Partner

San Francisco
Direct: (415) 544-1041
Fax: (415) 397-8549
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Ms. Slaught is a partner in the San Francisco office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and has been practicing in the Employee Benefits & ERISA litigation field since 1996.  Ms. Slaught represents employers, pension and welfare plans and ERISA plan administrators in all aspects of litigation arising from disputes over benefits and fiduciary claims.  She counsels compensation and benefit committees and Human Resources management regarding fiduciary duties, the administration of benefit plans, new health care laws and deferred compensation legislation.  She has handled a wide range of ERISA matters in court and in arbitration, including individual pension and welfare benefit claims, severance pay claims, executive compensation disputes, class action claims regarding plan design, and class action claims regarding plan administration and fiduciary responsibility.  She represents both employer and Taft-Hartley Fund interests in arbitrations over plan benefits.  She has represented employer trustees in federal court when sued for breach of fiduciary duty.

Ms. Slaught is also a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Department.  She advises trustees of multiemployer benefit funds on all issues including welfare and pension plan design and administration, investment of plan assets, the qualification of state domestic relations orders, drafting plan documents and general compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, federal labor law, and other laws affecting welfare and pension funds.  She is a frequent contributor to Seyfarth’s Health Care Reform Management Alerts and ERISA litigation blogs. 

Ms. Slaught is a partner in the San Francisco office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and has been practicing in the Employee Benefits & ERISA litigation field since 1996.  Ms. Slaught represents employers, pension and welfare plans and ERISA plan administrators in all aspects of litigation arising from disputes over benefits and fiduciary claims.  She counsels compensation and benefit committees and Human Resources management regarding fiduciary duties, the administration of benefit plans, new health care laws and deferred compensation legislation.  She has handled a wide range of ERISA matters in court and in arbitration, including individual pension and welfare benefit claims, severance pay claims, executive compensation disputes, class action claims regarding plan design, and class action claims regarding plan administration and fiduciary responsibility.  She represents both employer and Taft-Hartley Fund interests in arbitrations over plan benefits.  She has represented employer trustees in federal court when sued for breach of fiduciary duty.

Ms. Slaught is also a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Department.  She advises trustees of multiemployer benefit funds on all issues including welfare and pension plan design and administration, investment of plan assets, the qualification of state domestic relations orders, drafting plan documents and general compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, federal labor law, and other laws affecting welfare and pension funds.  She is a frequent contributor to Seyfarth’s Health Care Reform Management Alerts and ERISA litigation blogs. 

Education

  • J.D., George Washington University Law School (1993)
  • B.A., University of California, San Diego (1990)

Admissions

  • Hawaii
  • California

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii

Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • California Bar Association
  • Hawaii Bar Association
  • College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (Election as Fellow, 2016)

Representative Engagements

  • Brand Tarzana v. ILWU-PMA Welfare Plan, Case no. 16-55503 (9th Circuit, December 18, 2017): After the District Court granted the Plan’s motion for summary judgment based on the Plan’s assertion of an anti-assignment provision striping health care provider of standing to sue under ERISA, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court and ruled that The Court found that the Plan’s anti-assignment provision was unambiguous and was not contradicted by the direct pay provision. The Court also found that the Plan was not estopped from relying on the anti-assignment provision because the Plan did not make any material misrepresentations to Brand and there was no waiver of the provision.  The Court found that the Plan need not raise the anti-assignment provision during the administrative process because it is a litigation defense. Finally, the Court found that there was no evidence that the vendors acted inconsistently with the anti-assignment provision.
  • Sidlo v. Kaiser Permanente Ins. Co., Case No. 1:15-cv-00269, (US District Court, D. Haw., October 31, 2016).  Represented Kaiser Permanente Ins. Co. and related health plan in a class action dispute stemming from Kaiser’s reimbursement rate with Hawaii Life Flight Transportation regarding air ambulance flight.  The Kaiser Plan denied full payment for HLFT’s services.  I argued and obtained complete summary judgment on all counts.  The Judge held that the plaintiff could not continue with his proposed class action against Kaiser Permanente Insurance Co. for allegedly violating ERISA by under-paying claims for medical air transportation services in Hawaii. The Judge further held that that the participant wasn’t entitled to recover benefits under the ERISA. Kaiser’s internal policy for inter-facility ambulance services—which reimburses providers for insureds’ transport at no cost to them, including copays—governed the dispute. In ruling this way,  the Judge rejected the participant’s theory that another reimbursement clause in the Plan, which was more friendly to the provider’s claim, governed his case.
  • William Goodes and Diana Goodes v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Case No. 13-16027 (March 17, 2015), on appeal from USDC Northern District of CA; Case No. 12-1667 SI).  Obtained favorable ruling before the 9th Circuit affirming the lower court summary judgment ruling mentioned below on all counts.
  • Karamsetty v. Wells Fargo & Company, et al. (N.D. Cal. 3:12-cv-01364 JCS) (2013) Obtained summary judgment of putative class action claims for wrongful severance denial under ERISA Section 502(a)(1)(B) and interference with severance benefits under ERISA Section 510.
  • Vincenzo v. The 3Com Severance Benefit Plan for Vice Presidents, et al. (N.D. Cal. 12:03480 JCS) (2013)  Obtained summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Vincenzo’s benefit denial claim.
  • William Goodes and Diana Goodes v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., USDC Northern District of CA; Case No. 12-1667 SI. (2012) Obtained summary judgment on all claims raised by Plaintiffs on grounds that ERISA claims for wrongful benefit denial and fiduciary breach were barred by applicable statutes of limitations.
  • Jeffrey Lerner v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., United States District Court for the Central District of California; Case No. C10-08327-R (JEMx) (September 26, 2011, Judgment in favor of Plan after ERISA trial).
  • Sheila Lane Foley v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., et al., United States District Court for the Eastern District of California; Case No. CIV.S-01-0843 WBS JFM (August 28, 2003, Judgment entered in favor of Defendants on ERISA claim for benefits under the abuse of discretion standard of review after ERISA trial).
  • Margo Garcia-Pardini v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., et al.; San Francisco Superior Court; Case No. 317257 (July 20, 2001, Demurrer granted in favor of insurer on plaintiff’s bad faith and punitive damages causes of action finding ERISA preemption).
  • Spencer v. Caterpillar Inc., et al.; United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Case No. C 02-2101 SI (May 15, 2003, Summary Adjudication in favor of employer and ERISA plan on plaintiff’s claim for ERISA benefits and ERISA penalties).
  • Herlihy v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co.; United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Case No. C 02 0030 THE (May 9, 2003, Summary Adjudication in favor of insurer regarding plaintiff’s breach of annuity contract claim)
  • Sukhpreet Wadyal v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Case No. C025815 WHA (December 2003, Summary Judgment entered in favor of claims review fiduciary on ERISA claims for breach of fiduciary duty and for benefits under the abuse of discretion standard of review).

Presentations

  • Speaker, “Defending ERISA Sect. 510 Retaliation and Interference Claims from Workforce Realignments and Terminations,” Strafford Live Webinar (December 19, 2017)
  • San Francisco Ordinances: An Employer’s Guide to Doing Business in SF, San Francisco Employer Advisory Council (April 10, 2014)
  • Speaker, “DOMA, Windsor decision and the impact on Employee Benefit Plans,” San Francisco Employer Advisory Council (November 7, 2013)
  • Panelist, “The Aftermath of DOMA & Prop 8. What now?” Presented at the Santa Clara Bar Association, (August 29, 2013)
  • “Advanced Labor & Employment Conference, Employee Benefits Quarterly Update,” (Fall 2012)
  • “ERISA Year In Review Webinar,” (December 2012)

Publications

Accolades

  • Recognized as a Best Lawyer in America in ERISA litigation in U.S. News and World Report (2017)