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Rick Pautler

Senior Counsel

St. Louis
314 552 6470 314 552 6470 direct

Rick devotes his entire practice to the defense of employers in ERISA litigation related to pension, life, health, and disability benefits, both self-funded and insured.

In his 30-plus years of experience in ERISA litigation, Rick has appeared as lead counsel in more than 100 reported ERISA district court opinions originating from more than 30 district courts, and 30 ERISA appellate court opinions originating from eight different circuits. A number of those opinions are cited today as precedents in key areas of ERISA law, including "serious consideration" in the context of early retirement programs, whipsaw calculations in cash balance plans, and the enforceability of forum selection clauses.

Rick's deep experience in ERISA litigation allows him to assess newly filed claims and quickly zero in on a suit's key issues and the best avenue for its timely disposal. He has served as national ERISA counsel for Fortune 500 companies, and successfully defended clients in matters across the country, including in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, and all of the 8th Circuit.

Rick has defended against claims brought against pension plans and welfare plans, as well as their fiduciaries, and also counsels governmental and church plans. He has successfully defended clients who have been the subject of DOL investigations and actions.

Named the 2022 St. Louis Lawyer of the Year for Litigation - ERISA by "Best Lawyers®" (BL Rankings), Rick is a member of the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel. He is the only ACEBC Fellow in Missouri who devotes his practice to defending ERISA litigation.

Preville v. PepsiCo Hourly Employees Retirement Plan, 2016 WL 2942612, 649 Fed. Appx. 63 (2nd Cir. May 20, 2016)

Jones v. PepsiCo., Inc., No. 15-CV-01426 (SN), 2016 WL 2642676 (S.D. NY May 6, 2016)

Cocker v. Terminal R.R. Ass'n of St. Louis Pension Plan For Nonschedule Employees, 817 F.3d 337 (7th Cir. 2016)

Kutten v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (US), 759 F.3d 942 (8th Cir. 2014)

Hankins v. Standard Ins. Co., 677 F.3d 830 (8th Cir. 2012)

Ghouri v. Johnson & Johnson Long Term Disability Plan, 2010 WL 4860888 (9th Cir. Nov. 30, 2010)

Jenkins v. Price Waterhouse Long Term Disability Plan, 564 F.3d 856 (7th Cir. 2009)

Pendleton v. QuikTrip Corp., 567 F.3d 988 (8th Cir. 2009)

Keach v. U.S. Trust Co., N.A., 313 F.Supp.2d 818 (C.D. Ill. 2004)


Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Supreme Court Review

Employee Benefits Update

Thompson Coburn Publications

Choice of law provisions in ERISA plans will not result in uniformity

Bifurcated trials: A road map for better results for insurers facing non-ERISA disability claims

5 takeaways from the employee ERISA win in McMillan

Participants who roll their pension benefits into IRAs do not ‘receive’ them

Supreme Court clarifies definition of ‘church plan’ under ERISA

Halo looms over new decision that adds to ERISA risks for claims administrators

In a significant change, 2nd Circuit requires strict compliance with Department of Labor claim regulations


“Choice of Law Provisions in ERISA Plans Will Not Result in Uniformity“;
Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 3, Autumn, 2019

“Statute of Limitations Issues in ERISA § 510 Claims”;
DRI Voice, Vol. 9, Issue 2, January 13, 2010

ERISA: Jumpstarting Limitations;
DRI The Voice, Vol. 8 Issue 45 Nov. 11, 2009

“Issue Preclusion in ERISA Benefits Litigation: Should New Clams Be Permitted After Denial”;
DRI ERISA Report, Vol. 3 Issue 2, December 12, 2008

"Marketability Discounts in ESOP Redemptions: Armstrong v. LaSalle Bank Nat. Ass’n";
Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 at 31, Summer 2007


"The DOMA Decision: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know";
sponsored by BAMSL, July 2013

"Governmental Plans, Church Plans, and the Safe Harbor";
sponsored by DRI Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Litigation Conference, Boston, MA, April 27, 2011

"ERISA Litigation Update";
sponsored by BAMSL, September 2011

Preparing a Good Administrative Record;
American Conference Institute New York City, NY, October 19, 2009

ERISA Disability Cases After Glen;
sponsored by BAMSL, May 2009

ERISA Fiduciary Duties;
sponsored by BAMSL, April 2009