Chris is recognized as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers” by Chambers USA 2017 for Litigation: General Commercial. Since 2013, Chris has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of Commercial Litigation and Litigation - ERISA. For the years 2016 and 2018, Chris was recognized by Best Lawyers as its Cleveland ERISA Litigation “Lawyer of The Year,” a distinction reserved for one lawyer per practice area each year. Chris also has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as an Ohio “Litigation Star” for the past six years, including 2018.

Based on statewide voting by Ohio lawyers, Chris has been named a Top 100 Attorney in Ohio and a Top 50 Attorney in Cleveland (2013, 2015-2018) by Ohio Super Lawyers. He also has been selected to the 2018 Ohio Super Lawyers List for Business litigation. Chris is also a Life Member of the Judicial Conference of the 8th Judicial District (Cuyahoga County).

 

Commercial Litigation

  • In 2017, and stretching back to 2012, represents two of Ohio’s four casinos, and obtained judgment in the casinos’ favor with respect to federal and state constitutional claims asserted by a national anti-gambling organization and its Ohio members.  The losing plaintiffs have filed three separate appeals, including to the Ohio Supreme Court, and an appeal before the Franklin County Court of Appeals remains pending.
  • In 2016 and presently, represents Ohio’s largest health care insurer in connection with multi-million dollar real estate disputes arising from failed sale-leaseback transactions and syndicated commercial mortgages.
  • In 2016 represented one of Ohio’s largest steel companies in a multi-million dollar three-week jury trial arising from a $100 million construction project gone awry.
  • In 2014, defended a publicly held Ohio bank against federal court allegations of lending and collections fraud, and negotiated a nuisance value settlement of plaintiff’s claims.
  • In 2012, presented oral argument to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and obtained final judgment affirming the district court’s order dismissing the adverse parties’ myriad federal claims arising from alleged fraud, RICO and conspiracy activities relating to failed Florida real estate investments.
  • Successfully established a lack of personal jurisdiction in Ohio, and obtained a final judgment in 2012 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, for a large North American parking management company in a dispute with a competitor arising from their joint venture at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • In 2011, summary judgment was awarded to Calfee’s publicly held client in a case alleging alter ego and corporate veil theories against the client arising from a failed Cleveland real estate venture.
  • In 2010, represented a publicly owned Ohio bank in a class-action lawsuit arising from alleged false and fraudulent mass mailing advertisements; the case was dismissed with prejudice by the court with the granting of Calfee’s motion to dismiss.
  • In 2010, obtained summary judgment for a plaintiff bank against one of Ohio’s largest auto dealers arising from a fraudulent loan and auto purchase scam.
  • In 2008, successfully mediated and settled, at a 98% discount, improper lending and financing claims against Calfee’s client that were valued at greater than $40 million.
  • In 2007, settled at a 97% discount from the plaintiff’s alleged damages, fiduciary duty, RICO and contract claims against an Ohio-based publicly held bank.

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ERISA/Health Care Litigation

  • In 2016, and presently, represents a publicly-held Cleveland commodities company in connection with multi-million dollar claims against it arising from golden parachute/change-in-control agreements entered into with former company executives.  Final judgment in favor of Calfee’s client was entered by the trial court in 2016, was affirmed shortly thereafter by the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals, and the losing plaintiffs are now seeking Ohio Supreme Court review of their claims.
  • In 2016, and beginning in 2012, defended Ohio’s largest health care insurance company in separate, but related, multi-million dollar billing fraud lawsuits, one of which resulted in a final judgment disposing entirely of the plaintiffs’ $22 million causes of action, and the other of which resulted in a negotiated zero cost dismissal with prejudice.
  • In 2013, while representing the public company employer, obtained a federal court preliminary injunction freezing the current and prospective assets of all four adverse parties in a multi-million dollar ERISA healthcare benefits dispute arising from the mismanagement and underfunding of welfare plans.
  • In 2012 appeared for a preliminary injunction hearing in Newark, NJ federal court, the hometown of the opposing party, one of the world’s 10 largest insurers, and defeated the insurer’s request for an order prohibiting Calfee’s client from assigning to a third-party a multi-million dollar administrative services agreement.
  • Following extensive fact and expert discovery and summary judgment briefing before the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, favorably settled, in 2011, ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims filed by the bankruptcy trustee on behalf of an insolvent public company against its former officers and directors.
  • In 2010, following oral argument, obtained affirmation from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of a summary judgment award in an ERISA case involving Plan Administrator discretion, the appropriate standard of appellate review and the interplay between written Plan terms and alleged conflicting oral representations.
  • In 2009, finalized a $27 million settlement against an international financial adviser arising out of the Calfee pension plan client’s losses due to investments made in Bernard Madoff-related funds.
  • In 2009, on cross-motions for summary judgment filed after three days of evidentiary hearing, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the administration of a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
  • In 2008, Chris appeared in Dayton federal court for a class-action fairness hearing and reached an agreement to settle on favorable terms ERISA and RICO class-action claims arising from pension plan consulting and actuarial services.
  • Arguing ERISA preemption and standing issues before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005, Chris obtained judgment affirming the Louisiana district court’s summary judgment on behalf of three clients.  The companies had been sued in Louisiana state court for $2.4 million, arising from their alleged violations of Louisiana’s bad faith insurance statute.
  • In 2005, Chris obtained an American Arbitration Association award on behalf of Ohio’s largest Medicaid healthcare provider following state court litigation and a multi-day arbitration hearing arising from Medicaid billing fraud and breach of contract allegations against the client.

Chris is recognized as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers” by Chambers USA 2017 for Litigation: General Commercial. Since 2013, Chris has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of Commercial Litigation and Litigation - ERISA. For the years 2016 and 2018, Chris was recognized by Best Lawyers as its Cleveland ERISA Litigation “Lawyer of The Year,” a distinction reserved for one lawyer per practice area each year. Chris also has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as an Ohio “Litigation Star” for the past six years, including 2018.

Based on statewide voting by Ohio lawyers, Chris has been selected by Thompson Reuters as a Top 100 “Ohio Super Lawyer” and a top 50 “Cleveland Super Lawyer” (2013, 2015-2017). Chris is also a Life Member of the Judicial Conference of the 8th Judicial District (Cuyahoga County).

In addition to co-chairing the Litigation Department, Chris currently serves on Calfee’s Executive Committee, its Diversity Committee, its Business Development & Marketing Committee, and as Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.  Since 2012, Chris has served on the Board of Directors of the Columbus-based Ohio State Legal Services Association, and in June 2016, Chris was re-elected to a new three-year term on OSLSA’s Board.

Articles

  • “Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal Continue to Circumscribe the Instances in Which ERISA Plan Administrators May Rely on an Internal Plan Statute of Limitations,” (co-author, Calfee First Alert, September 2015)
  • “Sixth Circuit Clarifies When the Terms of an ERISA Summary Plan Description are Binding,” (co-author, Calfee First Alert, August 2015)
  • “Third Circuit Expands the Scenarios Under Which ERISA Parties May Recover Attorney’s Fees,” (co-author, Calfee First Alert, May 2015)
  • “U.S. Supreme Court Rejects “Presumption of Prudence” But Sets High Bar for Plaintiffs to Survive Motions to Dismiss ERISA Stock-Drop Suits,” (co-author, Calfee First Alert, June 2014)
  • “The U.S. Supreme Court’s Reverence for Unambiguous ERISA Plan Terms Returns to Plan Administrators Some Needed Control Over ERISA Benefits Lawsuits, ” (co-author, Calfee First Alert, June 2014)
  • “States face battle when adding requirements for ACA counselors, navigators,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, March 2014)
  • “Contraceptive Coverage Law Remains Contentious,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, July 2012)
  • “Supreme Court will rule on individual mandate,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, November 2011)
  • “Recent amendments apply standards of external review,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, September 2011)
  • “Efforts to weed out fraud now coming to fruition,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, July 2011)
  • “HHS oversight could force tighter limits on premiums,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, May 2011)
  • "Understanding the PPACA's Interim Final Regulations Affecting the ERISA Claims Process," (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, March 2011)
  • "The Cost of Change - If the PPACA Survives Constitutional Scrutiny, its Amendments to the ERISA Claims Review Process May Prove Costly," (co-author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's Bar Journal, March 2011)
  • "Close Calls: How the Supreme Court's Decision in Conkright v. Frommert Re-established a Plan Administrator's Discretion on Judgment Calls," (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, May 2010)
  • "Report of the Subcommittee on Benefit Claims and Individual Rights," Employee Benefits Law, 2nd Ed., BNA Books (contributing author, Mid-Winter Report, American Bar Association, 2007 and 2008)
  • "Arbitration: Is It the Answer for Your Dispute?," (co-author, Calfee Litigation Insights, Spring 2006)
  • "ERISA Stock-Drop Suits: Fertile Ground for Plaintiffs' Lawyers," (co-author, Calfee Litigation Insights, Fall 2005)
  • "You're Fired...But Not from Our Health Plan," (co-author, Cleveland Bar Journal Online, April 2005)
  • "More Enron Fall-Out: New Risks for Corporate Officers and Directors Under ERISA," (Calfee Business Insights, Summer 2004) 

Presentations

  • “The Art and Science of Jury Selection and the Parallels to Be Drawn From the Recent and Unprecedented Anti-Establishment Presidential Campaign,” (Calfee, Halter & Griswold and KPMG’s 17th Annual Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, September 2016).
  • “Effective Voir Dire - Using Jury Selection to Increase Your Success at Trial,” (Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, September 2015)
  • “Depositions of Corporate Representatives: Best Practices to Maximize Opportunities and Minimize Risk,” Panelist (Calfee, Halter & Griswold and KPMG’s 16th Annual Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, September 2015)
  • “Resolving Discovery Disputes: Let’s Eliminate the Motion to Compel,” Panelist (The Twenty-First Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District, “Transparency Within the Justice System,” May 2015)
  • “WEB Annual Legal & Regulatory Update - ERISA Litigation 2014-2015”; (Cleveland Chapter of the Worldwide Benefits Network (WEB), Cleveland, March 2015)
  • “Effective Voir Dire - Using Jury Selection to Increase Your Success at Trial,” (Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, October 2014)
  • “Effective Voir Dire,” (Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, October 2013)
  • “Lessons From and For In-House Counsel During Investigations and Litigation,” (Calfee 14th Annual Complex Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, August 2013)
  • “Social Media: Business Benefits and Legal Risks,” (Calfee 13th Annual Complex Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, August 2012)
  • “Legal Ramifications of HR’s Misrepresentations of Benefit Plans,” (Calfee Hot Topics in Labor and Employment Law Seminar, March 2011)
  • Faculty (National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Cleveland, October 2010)
  • “How to Present Your Corporate Client to a Jury or Judge and Pitfalls to Avoid: A Panel Discussion,” (Calfee 11th Annual Complex Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, July 2010)
  • Faculty, ERISA Litigation (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network, Inc., Cleveland Chapter, Annual Legal and Regulatory Update, March 2009)
  • “Litigation Basics - Voir Dire,” (Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, October 2008)
  • Faculty (National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Cleveland, May 2008)
  • “Understanding the PPACA’s Interim Final Regulations Affecting the ERISA Claims Process,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, March 2011)
  • “The Cost of Change If the PPACA Survives Constitutional Scrutiny, its Amendments to the ERISA Claims Review Process May Prove Costly,” (co-author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Bar Journal, March 2011)
  • “Close Calls: How the Supreme Court's Decision in Conkright v. Frommert Re-established a Plan Administrator’s Discretion on Judgment Calls,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive, January 2011)
  • “Out-Of-Network Liability Must Be Clear to Enrollees,” (co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, May 2010)
  • “Report of the Subcommittee on Benefit Claims and Individual Rights,” Employee Benefits Law, 2nd Ed., BNA Books (contributing author, Mid-Winter Report, American Bar Association, 2007 and 2008)
  • “Arbitration: Is It the Answer for Your Dispute?,” (co-author, Calfee Litigation Insights, Spring 2006)
  • “ERISA Stock-Drop Suits: Fertile Ground for Plaintiffs’ Lawyers,” (co-author, Calfee Litigation Insights, Fall 2005)
  • “You’re Fired...But Not from Our Health Plan,” (co-author, Cleveland Bar Journal Online, April 2005)
  • “More Enron Fall-Out: New Risks for Corporate Officers and Directors Under ERISA,” (Calfee Business Insights, Summer 2004)
Chambers 2017
Benchmark Litigation
Rated by Super Lawyers 

Contact Chris

Practice Areas

Education

  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1989
  • Miami University, B.A., 1986

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. District Courts (Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, Eastern District of Michigan, Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Contact Chris

  • cwilliams@calfee.com
  • 216.622.8441
  • vCard

Practice Areas

  • Business, Corporate and Commercial Litigation
  • Employee Benefits Litigation
  • Health Care Litigation
  • Appellate Proceedings Litigation

Education

  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1989
  • Miami University, B.A., 1986

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. District Courts (Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, Eastern District of Michigan, Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Supreme Court