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Philip R. O'Brien 
[T] 414-298-8243 
[F] 414-298-8097 
 
pobrien@reinhartlaw.com 

Admitted to the Bar
Wisconsin
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit


Philip R. O'Brien is a shareholder in the firm's Taft-Hartley group of the Employee Benefits Practice. He serves Taft-Hartley clients across the United States and is regarded as a trusted and knowledgeable attorney who listens well, spots issues, provides viable options and guides his clients in making fiduciary decisions that are in the best interests of plan participants.

Phil has a diverse and varied background in the area of employee benefits and compensation, and represents both single and multiemployer benefit funds governed by the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA) in the areas of contract enforcement, collection of delinquent benefit contributions, withdrawal liability, protection of subrogation and reimbursement rights, ERISA litigation and fiduciary conflicts in Taft-Hartley matters.

An experienced author and speaker, Phil has published several articles on ERISA and has frequently presented to professional, business and plan management audiences on the most relevant and topical issues impacting employee benefits with a particular focus on ERISA contribution delinquency protection, contract enforcement and subrogation and reimbursement issues.

Representative Matters and Experience

  • Winning a United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that confirmed ERISA multiemployer plans can charge interest and liquidated damages to signatory employers that do not make timely contributions to health and pension plans. This decision has had far-reaching economic consequences for the protection of participants of the plans, as well as the authority of fund trustees under ERISA and federal common law. Operating Engineers Local 139 Health Benefit Fund v. Gustafson Construction Corp., 258 F.3rd 645 (7th Cir. 2001)
  • Acted as co-counsel for a state-wide ERISA multiemployer health plan, encountering numerous complexities and events while the plan was subject to federal court oversight with a court-approved fiduciary serving on the Board of Trustees
  • Initiated and successfully prosecuted ERISA 502(a)(3) claims in various federal district courts to ensure enforcement of subrogation and reimbursement rights of health and disability plans

Accolades

  • Selected for inclusion in Wisconsin Super Lawyers since 2005
  • Wisconsin Top Rated Lawyer Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
  • Member, Professionals Committee, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 2013-present. The Professionals Committee is an appointed team of sixteen professionals, including accountants, actuaries, consultants and attorneys, from across the United States.

Notable Publications

  • "Benefit Basics: Being A New Trustee," Benefits Journal, Volume 49, No. 3 (March 2012)
  • "Subrogation and Reimbursement." Chapter 53, Trustee Handbook: A Guide To Labor-Management Employee Benefit Plans, Seventh Edition (C. Kordus, Editor) (2011)
  • "The Appointment, Monitoring & Removal of Trustees." Chapter 11, Trustee Handbook: A Guide To Labor-Management Employee Benefit Plans, Seventh Edition (C. Kordus, Editor) (2011)
  • "Preservation of Plan Assets through Enforcement of Subrogation and Reimbursement Rights." Benefits & Compensation Digest. Volume 44, Nos. 1 & 2 (January & February 2008)
  • "Enforcing Interest and Liquidated Damage Penalties Under Operating Engineers Local 139 Health Benefit Fund v. Gustafson Construction Corporation." Employee Benefits Journal. Volume 27, Number 1 (March 2003)

Speaking Engagements

  • "Withdrawal Liability," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Trustees & Administrators Institute; Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada; February and June, 2014
  • "Collection Issues For Health and Benefit Plans," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Collection Procedures Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, September 18, 2013
  • "Beyond The Signatory Employer (Corporate Alter Egos)," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Collection Procedures Institute, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, September 22, 2011
  • "Are You Leaving Money On The Table?: Subrogation In Collections," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Collection Procedures Institute, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, September 21, 2011
  • "Subrogation In Collections," International Foundation of Employee  Benefit Plans Collection Procedures Institute, Incline Village, Nevada, September 16, 2009
  • "Collective Bargaining Issues," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Construction Industry Benefits Conference, Incline Village, Nevada, September 16, 2009
  • "Subrogation Post-Sereboff Decision." International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 54th Annual Employee Benefits Conference, San Antonio, Texas, November 19, 2008

Affiliations/Memberships

  • American Cancer Society Wisconsin Leadership Board (Chairman)
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • American Bar Association
  • International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (Professionals Committee)
  • Greater Milwaukee Employee Benefits Council
  • Wisconsin Retirement Plan Professionals, Ltd.
  • United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, the Northern District of Oklahoma, the Northern District of Illinois, the District of Rhode Island, the Northern District of Texas, the Western District of Oklahoma and the Middle District of Florida
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Education

  • J.D., Marquette University Law School
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Marquette University; Alpha Sigma Nu