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Michael A. Valerio

Michael A. Valerio

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Overview

Michael Valerio's practice is focused on the representation of insurance companies, securities broker-dealers, and other financial services industry clients in class actions and other complex litigation at the trial and appellate levels, as well as in arbitration and regulatory enforcement matters. Michael also represents business groups and industry associations as amicus counsel in significant appellate litigation throughout the country, with a focus on ERISA fiduciary liability, employee benefits, and class certification issues. In addition, he counsels insurance and other financial services industry clients on risk management and supervisory issues relating to retail sales, wholesale distribution, product development, and other business practices, with a recent focus on preparation for the United States Department of Labor’s highly controversial “investment advice fiduciary rule” (or “conflict of interest rule”) applicable to retirement account transactions. Michael is the co-author of the chapter on fiduciary liability in the recently released Fourth Edition of the recognized treatise, Handbook on ERISA Litigation, published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers.

At the firm, Michael's national litigation practice has encompassed many areas, including the defense of ERISA, RICO, securities fraud, consumer fraud, and unfair trade practices claims involving the sale of life insurance, fixed, equity-indexed, and variable annuities, mutual funds, privately placed securities, and retirement products, as well as claims involving the administration of self-funded and insured health plans, disability insurance claims-handling practices, and the marketing of long-term care insurance and corporate-owned life insurance.

Michael is currently part of a legal team suing the United States Department of Labor to enjoin and vacate a key aspect of the Department’s new “fiduciary rule” regime. Among other representative matters, Michael is defending a major health insurer/claims administrator in a putative nationwide ERISA class action relating to the denial of plan benefits allegedly in violation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Michael was lead trial counsel in a lengthy FINRA securities arbitration alleging hedge fund losses in the aftermath of the world financial crisis. Michael and his team secured the dismissal of all claims against the firm’s client at the close of plaintiff’s evidence. Michael likewise argued successfully for the dismissal with prejudice of similar claims against a different industry client in a New York court action. He also was on the assembled trial team in a roughly billion-dollar-exposure, nationwide annuity sales and marketing practices class action that settled shortly before trial, and he argued successfully for the affirmance of summary judgment in his client’s favor on all claims and counterclaims in a high-profile, multi-million-dollar life insurance rescission case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Over the course of his career, Michael has acquired significant complex litigation experience in numerous other areas, including matters involving alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, antitrust and unfair competition claims, high-exposure product liability and insurance coverage issues, professional liability, shareholder disputes, and financial reporting issues. He has litigated “Winstar” claims on behalf of savings and loan institutions against the federal government, and he has pursued and defended claims arising under federal procurement laws and civil fraud matters arising under the federal False Claims Act.

Prior to joining the firm, Michael was engaged in private practice in Washington, DC. Earlier in his career, he was an in-house complex litigation and investigations counsel for a large international telecommunications provider, where he handled domestic and international disputes among and between telecommunications providers and commercial customers, as well as securities, antitrust, and other competitive and regulatory matters involving the telecommunications industry.

 

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Experience

Published decisions:

  • Welp v. Cigna Health & Life Ins. Co., 2017 WL 3263138 (S.D. Fla. July 20, 2017)
  • McCaffree Fin. Corp. v. Principal Life Ins. Co., 811 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2016) (amicus counsel in support of appellee/prevailing party)
  • Rochow v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 780 F.3d 364 (6th Cir. 2015) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/prevailing party)
  • Merrimon v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., 758 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2014) (amicuscounsel in support of appellant/cross-appellee/prevailing party)
  • Edmonson v. Lincoln National Life Ins. Co., 725 F.3d 406 (3d Cir. 2013) (amicuscounsel in support of appellee/prevailing party)
  • Leimkuehler v. American United Life Ins. Co., 713 F.3d 905 (7th Cir. 2013) (amicuscounsel in support of appellee/prevailing party)
  • Negrete v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 926 F. Supp. 2d 1143 (C.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Negrete v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2013 WL 6535164 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2013)
  • Negrete v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 287 F.R.D. 590 (C.D. Cal. 2012) 
  • SSR II, LLC v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.), 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 51880(U) [37 Misc. 3d 1204 (A)] (N.Y. Supr. Ct. Sept. 28, 2012)
  • Nationwide Life Ins. Co. v. Haddock, 460 Fed. Appx. 26 (2d Cir. 2012) (amicuscounsel in support of appellant/prevailing party)
  • United States ex rel. Loughren v. UNUM Group, 613 F.3d 300 (1st Cir. 2010) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/prevailing party)
  • Mooney v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2010 WL 419962 (D. Minn. Jan. 29, 2010)
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. AIG Life Ins. Co., 974 A.2d 858 (Del. Supr. Ct. 2009)
  • City of Chattanooga v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., 2009 WL 5184706 (D. Conn. Dec. 22, 2009)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Gil, 351 Fed. Appx. 515, 2009 WL 3601617 (2d Cir. Nov. 3, 2009)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Gil, 2009 WL 276086 (D. Conn. Feb. 5, 2009)
  • Independence Ins. Serv. Corp. v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., 472 F. Supp. 2d 183 (D. Conn. 2007)
  • Perfection Corp. v. Lochinvar Corp., 812 N.E.2d 465 (Ill. App. Ct. 2004)

Matter descriptions:

Insurance/Retirement/Securities Industry Matters

  • Represented life insurer in nationwide RICO and state unfair trade practices class action litigation relating to sales of certain fixed-interest and equity-indexed annuity products
  • Advised and represented private placement issuers and distributors in individual and class action matters relating to alleged losses attributable to Madoff "feeder funds" and other private/hedge fund investments following world financial crisis
  • Advised and represented major asset manager and fund complex regarding claims relating to losses in securities lending collateral investment pool due to asset-backed securities and credit market exposure
  • Represented insurance industry client in litigation involving alleged fraud in the sale of broad-based corporate-owned life insurance to major national retailer
  • Represented state life and health insurance guaranty association in multi-party dispute relating to responsibility for certain liabilities associated with insurer insolvency
  • Represented service provider in ERISA class action litigation involving alleged "revenue sharing" fees received from mutual fund investment advisers and/or distributors in connection with 401(k) retirement plan business
  • Represented government retirement plan service provider in putative class action asserting state law claims relating to service provider’s receipt of allegedly improper “revenue sharing” fees received from mutual fund investment advisers and/or distributors
  • Represented variable annuity issuer in action alleging violations of Securities Exchange Act Section 10(b)/Rule 10b-5 and state statutory and common law claims
  • Represented securities broker-dealer and annuity issuer in multiple actions relating to alleged fraud scheme and thefts by former registered representative and insurance agent
  • Advised financial services client in connection with threatened state securities law charges relating to alleged failure of affiliates to obtain state licensing as broker-dealers or investment advisers
  • Represented broker-dealer in NASD/FINRA investigation involving alleged market timing and recordkeeping violations
  • Represented broker-dealer in NASD/FINRA arbitration involving sale of funding vehicles for 412(i) defined benefit retirement plan and advised broker-dealer on response to subsequent regulatory investigation
  • Represented broker-dealer in parallel SEC/NASD/state securities department investigation and related civil litigation involving large-scale fraud and embezzlement scheme by former registered representative
  • Represented major accounting firm and audit partner in SEC investigation involving financial reporting by publicly traded accounting firm client
  • Represented publicly traded multi-level marketing company in federal securities fraud and state "anti-pyramid" and unfair trade practices class action litigation

Health Care Industry Matters

  • Representing health insurer/claims administrator in putative nationwide ERISA class action alleging violations of Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
  • Represented insurance industry client in dispute with contracted marketing organization associated with client’s exit from long-term care insurance business
  • Represented administrator of self-funded and insured health plans in ERISA and state law claims litigation arising from fraud investigation involving large out-of-network provider
  • Represented administrative service provider and stop-loss insurance carrier in dispute with sponsor of self-funded employee health benefit plan regarding responsibility for outstanding claims under terminated contract
  • Acted as special appellate counsel to primary and excess professional liability carriers in coverage action relating to insured managed care company’s settlement of underlying ERISA and RICO class action litigation brought by health plan members challenging methodology for calculating out-of-network benefits

Business/Trade Group Representation

  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in support of district court's grant of motion to dismiss in ERISA class action litigation involving allegedly excessive management fees charged by 401(k) retirement plan service provider
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit relating to district court's fiduciary liability ruling and class-wide monetary award in ERISA litigation involving a group life insurer's use of retained asset accounts ("RAAs") to pay life insurance benefits
  • Represented industry and business/employer groups as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit relating to district court's profit disgorgement award against claim administrator/group insurer in ERISA disability benefits litigation
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in support of district court's grant of summary judgment in ERISA class action litigation involving alleged "revenue sharing" fees received by 401(k) retirement plan service provider
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in support of district court's grant of summary judgment in ERISA class action litigation involving a group life insurer's use of RAAs to pay life insurance benefits
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit relating to district court's class certification order in ERISA litigation involving a group life insurer's use of RAAs to pay life insurance benefits
  • Represented industry and employer groups as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in federal civil False Claims Act litigation involving private long-term disability insurance industry practices relating to insureds' applications for Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") benefits
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of 401(k) retirement plan service provider’s petition for interlocutory appellate review, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), of district court’s order certifying nationwide plan administrator class under Rule 23(b)(3) in ERISA “excessive fee” litigation
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit relating to district court's order certifying nationwide plan trustee class under Rule 23(b)(2) in ERISA litigation involving alleged "revenue sharing" fees received by 401(k) retirement plan service provider
  • Represented industry group as amicus curiae in summary judgment proceedings before federal district court in ERISA class action litigation involving insurance company/401(k) retirement plan service provider’s allegedly improper retention of general account investment earnings in connection with guaranteed/fixed-rate investment option

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Recognition

  • Salutatorian (for attaining second-highest cumulative grade point average in law school graduating class)
  • Vernon X. Miller Scholar (Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law merit-based scholarship awardee)
  • Member, Catholic University Law Review
  • American Jurisprudence Awards in Commercial Transactions and Criminal Law
  • Co-Chair of ERISA and Retirement Plans Practice Group & Vice Chair of Securities Industry Group, Jorden Burt LLP

Professional & Community Involvement

  • District of Columbia Bar
  • American Bar Association
    • Litigation Section
    • Securities Litigation Committee
  • Firm's Pro Bono Program, former Connecticut Office Pro Bono Partner/Coordinator & Firm Pro Bono Committee Member
  •  Clemency Project 2014
    • Volunteer Attorney
  • Simsbury Land Trust
    • Member
  • Volunteer Youth Baseball and Basketball Coach

Speaking Engagements

  • “The Hottest Litigation Topics – A Year in Review,” Insured Retirement Institute’s Action 18 Conference (May 10, 2018)
  • "Update on ERISA Retirement Plan Litigation – Including Impact of the DOL Rule,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Webinar, Washington, DC (January 17, 2018) 
  • “The Hottest Litigation Topics from the Year in Review,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2017, Washington, DC (June 12, 2017) 
  • “DOL Fiduciary Rule Implementation Workshop,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2016, Washington, DC (June 8, 2016)  
  • “Litigation and Enforcement under the DOL Fiduciary Rule and the BIC Exemption,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2016, Washington, DC (June 6, 2016) 
  • “Recent Developments in Annuity and Life Insurance Litigation,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Webinar, Washington, DC (May 11, 2016) 
  • “Answering The ‘Top Ten’ Key Questions About The DOL Fiduciary Rule,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Webinar, Washington, DC (March 8, 2016) 
  • "Litigation Forum: FINRA Arbitration and Enforcement Actions," Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2014, Washington, DC (July 2014) 
  • “Recent Developments and Trends in Retirement Plan Litigation,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2013, Washington, DC (June 2013) 
  • “Recent Developments and Trends in Retirement Plan Litigation,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference 2012, Washington, DC (June 2012) 
  • American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) Quarterly Litigation Conference Call (March 2012) 
  • Life Litigation Legal Summit, Simsbury, CT (May 2008) 

Credentials

Education
  • Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (J.D., 1993)
  • The Johns Hopkins University (B.A., 1990)
Bar Admissions
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.