People: Ada W. Dolph, Partner

Photo of Ada W. Dolph, Partner

Ada W. Dolph

Partner

Chicago
Direct: (312) 460-5977
Fax: (312) 460-7977
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Ada Dolph is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. She represents clients in a wide range of labor and employment matters, with an emphasis on ERISA, whistleblower and employment discrimination claims.  She is a Co-Lead of the Firm's Whistleblower Team and a member of the ERISA & Employee Benefits Practice Group and Health Care Fraud & Provider Billing Litigation Team.
 
Ms. Dolph regularly counsels a wide variety of clients, including in the healthcare, airline, retail, manufacturing, consumer product and supply-chain industries, regarding compliance with and claims brought under Title VII, ADA, Section 1981, ADEA, the Railway Labor Act (RLA), AIR21, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), and their state law counterparts.  She counsels clients regarding employment disputes and compliance, conducts internal investigations, positions clients for anticipated litigation, and vigorously defends clients in government investigations, administrative charges and lawsuits.  She has defended matters brought in local, state and federal agencies (including the EEOC and OSHA), and state and federal courts across the country.  Ms. Dolph also counsels clients in all aspects of reductions in force (RIF), including selection, statistical analysis, group release agreements, and defense of any claims that may result.
   
Ms. Dolph also regularly defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries and insurers in lawsuits across the country in single, multi-party and class-action ERISA matters involving:
  • Employer securities, including “stock drop” cases
  • Retirement plan investments, including claims for imprudence regarding alleged failure to diversify investments
  • Plan fees and expenses, including 401(k) fee litigation regarding revenue sharing, “float,” and record keeping fees 
  • Retiree medical benefits, including claims challenging modifications to retiree medical benefits 
  • Denials of severance, life, medical and disability benefits 
  • Preemption issues, including removing to federal court ERISA claims disguised as state law claims 
  • Benefit discrimination, and a variety of other ERISA claims 
Ms. Dolph has significant e-discovery experience in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, including the effective and efficient management of preservation, collection, review, and production of electronic information, as well as aggressively navigating disputes regarding the breadth and scope of document production.
 
Ms. Dolph’s class experience includes unique procedural issues including successfully opposing a named plaintiff-intervenor, obtaining a Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) appeal, defeating and narrowing class certification before and after Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), and settlements in classes of up to 80,000 plaintiffs. 
Ada Dolph is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. She represents clients in a wide range of labor and employment matters, with an emphasis on ERISA, whistleblower and employment discrimination claims.  She is a Co-Lead of the Firm's Whistleblower Team and a member of the ERISA & Employee Benefits Practice Group and Health Care Fraud & Provider Billing Litigation Team.
 
Ms. Dolph regularly counsels a wide variety of clients, including in the healthcare, airline, retail, manufacturing, consumer product and supply-chain industries, regarding compliance with and claims brought under Title VII, ADA, Section 1981, ADEA, the Railway Labor Act (RLA), AIR21, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), and their state law counterparts.  She counsels clients regarding employment disputes and compliance, conducts internal investigations, positions clients for anticipated litigation, and vigorously defends clients in government investigations, administrative charges and lawsuits.  She has defended matters brought in local, state and federal agencies (including the EEOC and OSHA), and state and federal courts across the country.  Ms. Dolph also counsels clients in all aspects of reductions in force (RIF), including selection, statistical analysis, group release agreements, and defense of any claims that may result.
   
Ms. Dolph also regularly defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries and insurers in lawsuits across the country in single, multi-party and class-action ERISA matters involving:
  • Employer securities, including “stock drop” cases
  • Retirement plan investments, including claims for imprudence regarding alleged failure to diversify investments
  • Plan fees and expenses, including 401(k) fee litigation regarding revenue sharing, “float,” and record keeping fees 
  • Retiree medical benefits, including claims challenging modifications to retiree medical benefits 
  • Denials of severance, life, medical and disability benefits 
  • Preemption issues, including removing to federal court ERISA claims disguised as state law claims 
  • Benefit discrimination, and a variety of other ERISA claims 
Ms. Dolph has significant e-discovery experience in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, including the effective and efficient management of preservation, collection, review, and production of electronic information, as well as aggressively navigating disputes regarding the breadth and scope of document production.
 
Ms. Dolph’s class experience includes unique procedural issues including successfully opposing a named plaintiff-intervenor, obtaining a Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) appeal, defeating and narrowing class certification before and after Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), and settlements in classes of up to 80,000 plaintiffs. 

Education

  • J.D., Northwestern School of Law, cum laude (2004)
    Northwestern Law Review, Articles Editor; Published in Northwestern Law Review (2004); Spring 2004 Trial Advocacy Team
  • B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison (1999)

Admissions

  • Illinois

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Past Admissions Pro Hac Vice

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Western and Southern Districts of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Utah
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

Affiliations

  • Chicago Bar Association (Class Action Committee, Employee Benefits Committee, Labor and Employment Law Committee, Alliance for Women Committee)
  • American Bar Association (Section of Labor & Employment Law----Co-Chair Employment Discrimination Subcommittee, Employee Benefits Committee; Section of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice; Forum on Air and Space Law)

Representative Engagements

ERISA and Employee Benefits Litigation

Class Actions

  • Groussman v. Motorola, Inc., No. 10-911, 2011 WL 5554030 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 2011) (class certification defeated in class action “stock drop” case alleging breach of fiduciary duty in connection with continuing to offer company stock in the 401(k) plan; settled case with remaining individual plaintiffs before plaintiffs deposed any defense witnesses)
  • Howell v. Motorola, Inc., 633 F.3d 552 (7th Cir. 2011) (obtained summary judgment for the defendants in class action “stock drop” case alleging breach of fiduciary duty in connection with continuing to offer company stock in the 401(k) plan; judgment affirmed by the Seventh Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for writ of certiorari)
  • Martin v. Caterpillar Inc. et al.,  No. 07 CV 1009, 2010 WL 3210448 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 12, 2010) (class of approximately 80,000 plaintiffs alleged ERISA claims for breach of fiduciary duty based on allegedly excessive fees charged to their 401(k) plan accounts; obtained transfer of venue; obtain bifurcation of discovery into class and merits discovery; class action settlement reached after defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings)
  • Van Billiard v. Farrell Distributing Corporation, No. 2:09–CV–78 (D. Vt. 2010) (class action settlement of ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty claims for failure to diversify company money purchase pension plan)
  • Street v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, No. 06-2963, 2007 WL 844619 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 15, 2007) (obtained dismissal of ERISA class action claims seeking to recover interest on delayed benefit payments)
  • Bland v. Fiat Allis North America, Inc. et al., No. 02 CV 69 (N.D. Ill. November 15, 2006) (class action settlement of ERISA claims that employer allegedly breached its fiduciary duties with regard to retiree medical benefits)

Single Plaintiff

  • McNabb v. U.S. Department of the Army, The Prudential Insurance Company of America et al., No. 13-35502 (9th Cir. August 19, 2015) (affirming dismissal of claim against Prudential for failure to state a claim for benefits under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Act)
  • Stultz v. Procter & Gamble Profit Sharing Plan, No. 2:13-cv-07122-SJO-JC (C.D. Cal. April 10, 2014) (obtained dismissal of Section 502(a)(1)(B) benefits claim and Section 1132(c) documents claim on ERISA statute of limitations and statutory standing grounds)
  • Stewart v. Caterpillar Inc., No. 1:12-cv-05328 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 3, 2012) (obtained dismissal of complaint with prejudice on grounds ERISA Section 502(a)(3) claim for breach of fiduciary duty was barred by the ERISA statute of limitations found in 29 U.S.C. Section 1113 and plaintiff voluntarily dismissed state law claims as preempted by ERISA; affirmed after the plaintiff’s Rule 60 motion).
  • Grimmett v. Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. et al., No. 2:11-cv-12623-LPZ-LJM  (E.D. Mich. September 27, 2012) (obtained summary judgment for defendants in denial of long-term disability benefits claim; the court also held that Michigan regulation did not invalidate Firestone discretionary language contained in insurance policy).
  • Parker v. Anthem Life Insurance Company, Administrator of the Anthem BCBS/WellPoint, Inc. Long Term Disability Plan, No. 1:11-cv-01539 (S.D. Ind. 2012) (defense of ERISA denial of long term disability benefits claim).
  • Jones v. Anthem Life Insurance Company and WellPoint Flexible Benefit Plan, No. 1:11-cv-1014 (S.D. Ind. 2012) (defense of ERISA denial of long term disability benefits claim).
  • Dunigan v. Caterpillar Inc. et al, No. 1:10-cv-00132 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 12, 2011) (obtained summary judgment for defendant Caterpillar in ERISA denial of retiree medical benefits claim).
  • Konrad v. WellPoint, Inc., No. 1:09-cv-00724-TSBS (S.D. Ohio July 7, 2010) (obtained dismissal of ERISA denial of severance benefits claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies).
  • Ho v. Motorola, Inc., No. 1–10–1895 (Ill. App. Ct. Feb. 14, 2011) (affirming circuit court’s dismissal of complaint seeking disability benefits for failure to meet pleading standards; Illinois Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition for review).
  • Thompson v. Continental Cas. Co., 602 F. Supp. 2d 943, 945 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (obtained dismissal of ERISA denial of retiree medical benefits claims on statute of limitations and other grounds).
  • Pronti v. CNA Financial Corp., No. 03-CV-1518, 2007 WL 4246339 (N.D.N.Y.,Nov. 28, 2007) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on plaintiff’s ERISA denial of pension benefits claim).
  • Leahy v. Motorola, Inc., CIV 06 616 PHX JAT (D. Ariz. Apr. 14, 2006) (obtained voluntary dismissal of the defendant from ERISA denial of pension benefits case based on plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies).
  • Stonich v. CNA, No. 05 C 1180, 2006 WL 752939  (N.D. Ill. Mar. 20, 2006) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s ERISA denial of medical benefits claim).

Preemption

  • Agar v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 3:12-CV-03847-L (N.D. Tex. June 14, 2014) (obtained dismissal of certain state law claims as preempted by Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Act)
  • Stewart v. Caterpillar, Inc., No. 12 5328, 2012 WL 6019287, at *1 (N.D.Ill. Nov. 30, 2012) (plaintiff voluntarily dismissed state law claims after defendant moved to dismiss as preempted by ERISA).
  • Stultz v. Procter & Gamble, No. 2:10-cv-05122 (C.D. Cal. April 19, 2011) (dismissing state law claims for fraud, conversion and emotional distress as preempted by ERISA).
  • Konrad v. WellPoint Severance Pay Plan et al., No. 1:09-cv-00724 (S.D. Ohio July 7, 2010) (dismissing state law claims as preempted by ERISA).
  • Gonzalez v. Freedom Communications, Inc., No. 8:06-CV-01244 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2007) (removed class action complaint to federal court based on complete ERISA preemption; plaintiffs’ motion to remand was denied).
  • Tang v. Motorola, No. 06-C-4667 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 29, 2006) (removed complaint to federal court based on complete ERISA preemption).
  • Leahy v. Motorola, No. CV2006 - 050437 (D. Ariz. Feb. 27, 2006) (removed complaint to federal court based on complete ERISA preemption).
  • Stonich v. Continental Casualty Co. No. 05-1180 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 28, 2004) (removed complaint to federal court on complete ERISA preemption grounds).

WHISTLEBLOWER

  • Secured the dismissal of an AIR21 whistleblower complaint against major airline (2013); ongoing representation in appeal before OSHA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges
  • Ongoing representation of major airline in appeal of dismissal of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) whistleblower complaint before OSHA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges
  • Secured the dismissal of a Dodd-Frank/SOX whistleblower complaint against major airline (2013); ongoing representation in appeal before OSHA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges
  • Bustamante v. TIN, Inc., Case No. 07-970 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (successfully moved to dismiss retaliatory discharge claim as preempted by Illinois Whistleblower Act and other grounds).
  • Sarabia v. Clark Steel Framing Systems, No. 2008 L 7 (Circuit Court of Ogle County) (defense of retaliatory discharge claim under Illinois law).
  • Meyer v. United Airlines, Incorporated, No. 08-599 (N.D. Ill.) (defense of retaliatory discharge claim under Illinois law).
  • Street v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, No. 06-2963 (N.D. Ill. April 30, 2007) (after defendant moved to strike, plaintiff voluntarily withdrew class action claim for retaliatory discharge).
  • Abraham v. St. Francis Hospital, No. 05 L 00587 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (defense of retaliatory discharge claim under Illinois law).

ADA and FMLA

  • Simkus v. United Airlines, No. 10-cv-05274, 2013 WL 140455 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2013) (dismissal with prejudice of Title VII, ADA and ADEA discrimination and retaliation claims).
  • Darden v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, No. 10 CV 4225, 2012 WL 965084 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 21, 2012) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s claims under the ADEA, ADA, and Title VII).
  • Perrywatson v. United Airlines, Inc., 762 F. Supp. 2d 1107 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s claims of ADA and ADEA discrimination based on statute of limitations and RLA preemption).
  • Street v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, No. 06 CV 2963 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 16, 2006) (complete defense verdict in jury trial on the plaintiff’s ADA claim).

ADEA

  • Simkus v. United Airlines, No. 10-cv-05274, 2013 WL 140455 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2013) (dismissal with prejudice of Title VII, ADA and ADEA discrimination and retaliation claims).
  • Snyder v. Baxter, No. 09-4244, 2010 WL 3549425 (3d Cir. Sept. 14, 2010) (affirming district court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint alleging claims under Title VII, the ADA, ADEA and Pennsylvania Human Rights Act).
  • Howard v. TIN, Inc., No. 08 CV 4812,  2009 WL 4884169 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 14, 2009) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s claim for ADEA discrimination).

TITLE VII

  • Stevenson v. United Airlines, Inc. et al., No. 1:12-cv-03094 (N.D. Ill. May 1, 2015) (obtained summary judgment for the defendants on the plaintiff’s Title VII and Section 1981 race claims).
  • Petway v. Ingalls Home Care, No. 10-448 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 7, 2013) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s Title VII race and retaliation claims).
  • Simkus v. United Airlines, No. 10-cv-05274, 2013 WL 140455 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2013) (dismissal with prejudice of Title VII, ADA and ADEA discrimination and retaliation claims). 
  • Morris v. Temple Inland, No. 1:09–cv–01168–JMS–DML, 2010 WL 5250592 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 16, 2010) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant regarding the plaintiff’s claim for Title VII race discrimination).
  • Hudson v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., No. 04-cv-10285, 2008 WL 819687 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 25, 2008) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s Title VII race discrimination and retaliation claims; Second Circuit dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal).
  • O’Connor v. Temple-Inland, Inc., No. 06-CV-04623, 2008 WL 80358 (D. Minn. Jan. 7, 2008) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant regarding the plaintiff’s Title VII sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation claims).
  • Birch v. Illinois Bone & Joint Institute, Ltd., No. 04 C 7285, 2006 WL 2795040 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2006) (obtained summary judgment for the defendant on the plaintiff’s Title VII sex discrimination claim).

 

Presentations

  • “What Are the Impacts of the Trump Administration on Employee Benefits?,” 11th Annual Labor & Employment Conference, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Washington, DC (November 11, 2017)
  • “Discrimination In and Interference With Employee Benefits,” ERISA Basics National Institute, Chicago, IL (October 27, 2017)
  • “Anatomy of a Deposition,” ERISA Basics National Institute, Chicago, IL (October 26, 2017)
  • “Anatomy of a Deposition,” ERISA Litigation National Institute, Chicago, IL (June 8, 2017)
  • “Pleadings and Motions Practice in ERISA Litigation,” ERISA Litigation National Institute, Chicago, IL (June 8, 2017)
  • “Benefit Claims Litigation:  Discovery, Experts, Standard of Review and Discovery and Dispositive Motions,” Advanced ERISA Benefit Claims Litigation (May 20, 2016)
  • “Pleadings and Motions Practice in ERISA Litigation,” ERISA Litigation National Institute (May 19, 2016)
  • "Wellness Programs: Design, Implementation and Litigation Risks," American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee, 2016 Mid-Winter Meeting (February 11, 2016)
  • “Benefit Claims: Administrative Procedures,” and “Benefit Claims: Litigation,” American Bar Association, ERISA Basics National Institute (October 28, 2015)
  • “Benefit Claims Litigation:  From Claims Review to Standard of Review and Discovery and Dispositive Motions,” American Bar Association, National Institute on ERISA Litigation (May 13, 2015)
  • “Benefit Claims: Administrative Procedures,” and “Benefit Claims: Litigation,” American Bar Association, ERISA Basics National Institute (October 16, 2014)
  • “Benefit Claims: Administrative Procedures,” and “Benefit Claims: Litigation,” American Bar Association, ERISA Basics National Institute (October 16, 2013)
  • "Criminal Penalties Under ERISA: Pitfalls For Unwary or Unwitting Fiduciaries," American Bar Association, Employee Benefits Committee Mid-Winter Meeting (February 21, 2013)
  • “2012 ERISA Year In Review,” Seyfarth Shaw LLP Webinar (December 14, 2012)
  • “Review of the Most Important Litigation,” ERISA Claims Litigation Program, presented by Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (October 19, 2012)
  • “Standard of Review, Discovery & Attorneys’ Fees: Where are We After Glenn, Frommert & Hardt?,” 2012 Midwinter Meeting, presented by American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law Employee Benefits Committee, San Diego, CA (February 15-18, 2012)
  • "Fiduciary Lessons Learned From 401(k) Fee Litigation," for the Great Lakes Area TE/GE Council Meeting (October 14, 2011)
  • “Defending ERISA Class Actions Amid an Evolving Litigation Landscape,” Strafford Class Action Litigation program (September 21, 2011)

Publications

Accolades

  • Recognized by Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star" in Illinois (2010-2014)

Community Involvement

  • Young Professionals Board for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, Co-Chair of the Board
  • Connections for Abused Women and their Children (CAWC), Board Member
  • National Immigrant Justice Center (in a 2006 pro bono engagement, obtained political asylum for two brothers from the Democratic Republic of Congo)