Philip R. O’Brien is a shareholder in Reinhart’s Employee Benefits Practice primarily serving Taft-Hartley clients across the United States. He has a diverse background spanning all areas of the employee benefits and compensation spectrum and represents both single and multiemployer benefit funds governed by the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA). Phil frequently assists clients in the areas of contract enforcement, collection of delinquent benefit contributions, withdrawal liability, protection of subrogation and reimbursement rights, ERISA litigation, and fiduciary conflicts.
With three decades of legal experience, Phil’s impressive breadth of knowledge and expertise regarding employee benefits enables him to take a proactive approach where he is able to quickly identify potential problems and resolve them before they arise. Regarded as a trusted and knowledgeable attorney, Phil takes the time to listen to the needs of his clients in order to provide fiduciary recommendations that are in the best interest of the plan trustees who serve on behalf of the plan participants. While each case is unique, Phil’s passion for assisting his clients is unwavering because he realizes his direct involvement in helping protect both health care and pension coverage affecting the lives and futures of thousands of participants and their families.
An experienced author and speaker, Phil has published several articles on ERISA and is a frequent presenter on issues impacting employee benefits with a particular focus on ERISA collection matters, contract enforcement, and health plan subrogation and reimbursement rights. Phil serves as the Chairman of the Wisconsin State Leadership Board for the American Cancer Society.
Phil primarily serves the following industries:
- Qualified Retirement Plans
- Taft-Hartley Multiemployer
- ERISA Litigation
J.D., Marquette University Law School
B.A., magna cum laude, Marquette University; Alpha Sigma Nu
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
- 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
- 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.
- International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (Professionals Committee)
- American Cancer Society Midwest Division Board of Directors
- American Cancer Society Wisconsin Leadership Board (former Chairman)
- State Bar of Wisconsin
- American Bar Association
- 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
- “Preservation of ERISA Plan Assets Through Subrogation and Reimbursement Rights.” Chapter 24, Self-Funding Health Benefit Plans (J.C. Garner, editor), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Press (2015)
- “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)
- Insolvent Pension Plans,” Panel Facilitator, and “Fringe Benefit Plan Delinquency Controls,” Presenter, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 61st Annual Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 2015
- “Subrogation and Reimbursement,” International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 60th Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, October 2014
- “Keeping the Record Straight: Trustee Meeting Minutes,” International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 60th Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, October 2014
- “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
Reinhart’s Phil O’Brien, Chair of the State Leadership Board of the American Cancer Society, accepts Proclamation from City of Milwaukee and leads benefit walk with Mayor Barrett and UWM Men’s Basketball coach Rob Jeter