A balanced approach to resolving employee benefits disputes
Justican Mediation, LLC was created by Susan Katz Hoffman and Marc I. Machiz as an innovative approach to mediating major benefits litigation disputes, based on the conviction that large-scale ERISA litigation can be resolved most effectively with the assistance of a mediation team representing both a plaintiff’s and a defendant’s perspective. Just as important, we believe those perspectives should be represented by individuals with a profound understanding of both litigation process and the substantive issues presented by ERISA cases. Too often, the traditional model of a single neutral mediator degenerates rapidly into a mechanical shuttling of offers and counteroffers between the parties, who single-mindedly focus on the midpoint between the parties’ positions, rather than a disciplined analysis of litigation merits, costs, and risks. Without a doubt, some cases need nothing more than the traditional mediation process to assist them in surmounting the parties’ reluctance to “signal weakness” by moderating their positions and being viewed as “negotiating against themselves.” Those cases don’t need us. Where the parties respect each other’s ability to take the case to trial or present a convincing dispositive motion, however, they need a resolution grounded in the law and the facts crafted with the assistance of a mediation team that can speak frankly and respectfully to each side about the merits, because the mediation team includes a distinguished representative of each side. Because we believe that it is so important to offer this alternate mediation model to the ERISA litigation community, we will seek to price the services of our team to be competitive with respected solo mediators. We offer, however, more than two for one. Together we provide a range of knowledge and experience and the ability to harmonize contending points of view that no mere neutral can match.
Since we founded Justican Mediation, LLC, counsel involved in several disputes have approached us about providing expert witness testimony. In select cases where we believe that we can harmonize our different perspectives and serve the interests of justice, we will take such assignments. Our long experience as litigators, however, inclines us to advise conciliation whenever possible, and we believe it is possible, much more often than not.
While we would rather assist you in resolving your dispute than litigating it to a contested conclusion, we recognize that in some cases we can be of service other than as mediators, and we are happy to do so when appropriate.
EXPERT WITNESS SERVICES
MARC I. MACHIZ
Beginning in 1978, with a two-year interlude representing unions and multiemployer plans in the mid 1980s, Marc’s career as a litigator for the Office of the Solicitor of Labor culminated with a twelve year stint (1988 to 2000) as the Associate Solicitor of Labor, Plan Benefits Security Division, the Department’s highest-ranking lawyer dealing solely with enforcing and interpreting ERISA. From 2000 through January of 2012, he was a partner and chair of the employee benefits practice group at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll, PLLC, a plaintiff’s class action firm, where he also represented a leading independent fiduciary in evaluating securities and ERISA class action settlements. In 2012 he joined the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) as an advisor on enforcement issues to the Deputy Assistant Secretary; he assumed the position of Regional Director of EBSA for the Philadelphia Region of EBSA in mid-2012 until the end of 2015. In 2016, he served as a Senior Advisor to EBSA’s Director of the Office of Enforcement, retiring from federal service at the end of 2016. During his tenure as a federal official, Marc was best known for initiating the Solicitor’s amicus curiae program, designing EBSA’s Major Case initiative, and pursuing the Philadelphia Region’s pilot project to require Defined Benefit Plans to actively contact missing participants. Marc is a Charter Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Inc., a former member of BNA’s employee benefits advisory committee and an active member of the employee benefits committee of the Labor Section of the ABA. He received his J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) in 1978.
SUSAN KATZ HOFFMAN
Prior to joining Justican Mediation, Susan was a shareholder with Littler Mendelson, P.C., with her practice concentrating in the areas of benefit plan design and administration, employee benefits issues in corporate transactions, and benefit litigation, representing employers, multiemployer plan trustees, and service providers. Before joining Littler to head the employee benefits practice, she was a partner at Pepper Hamilton and before that at Goodwin, Procter in Boston, MA. She is a former Management Co-Chair of the ABA Labor & Employment Law Section’s Committee on Employee Benefits, and a former chair of the ABA Tax Section’s Subcommittees on Mergers and Acquisitions, Litigation and Fiduciary Standards (Employee Benefits Committee). She was a member of the senior editorial board of the ABA Labor Section’s treatise on Employee Benefits Law, both 1st and 2nd editions and is a frequent speaker at seminars relating to employee benefits and labor law, benefits litigation, and benefits in corporate transactions. Ms. Hoffman is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and is a Charter Fellow of the College of Employee Benefit Counsel. Ms. Hoffman earned her B.A. in economics (with honors) from Lake Forest College in 1970, and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1974 (cum laude). She also holds an MBA (with honors) from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she concentrated her studies in the field of labor relations.