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Allegations of Misuse of Pension Contributions Rock Former Philadelphia Law Firm
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A renowned Philadelphia-based law firm, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, which ceased operations after nearly a century of service, faces a significant legal blow as it grapples with allegations of misappropriating pension contributions. The lawsuit, filed as a class action, accuses the defunct firm of utilizing pension funds to sustain its operations and compensate its shareholders, thus detrimentally affecting other partners and employees.

Legal Action Unfolds: Plaintiff Takes Firm to Federal Court

Jo Bennett, a former non-ownership partner at Schnader Harrison, has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in the U.S. federal court in Philadelphia. Acting on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of the firm’s retirement and savings plan, Bennett’s suit underscores the purported violations of ERISA regulations by Schnader Harrison.

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Firm’s Response and Serious Allegations

Despite the legal proceedings, the firm’s representatives, including its former chairman and CEO, David Smith, have remained silent. Adam Garner, Bennett’s legal counsel, emphasizes the gravity of the allegations, characterizing them as “serious” and shedding light on the issue of fiduciary misconduct raised by the case.

Plaintiff’s Background and Firm’s Demise

Bennett, who served as a partner at Schnader Harrison from 2016 to 2023, now holds a prominent position leading the labor and employment team at Culhane Meadows Haughian & Walsh, a 70-partner law firm. Schnader Harrison, once operating across several states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and California, commenced winding down its operations in August of the previous year.

Mismanagement of Pension Contributions Unveiled

According to the complaint, Schnader Harrison allegedly mishandled employee contributions to its retirement and savings plan during 2022 and 2023, intertwining these funds with the firm’s general assets. The lawsuit contends that these contributions were diverted to cover operational expenses and disbursements to equity partners, even as the firm encountered financial challenges.

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Impact and Estimated Class Size

Bennett’s lawsuit implicates several hundred individuals, including over 130 plan participants, potentially affected by the alleged misconduct. The lawsuit sheds light on the financial strain experienced by the firm while equity partners continued to receive compensation, suggesting a disturbing imbalance in economic priorities.

Legal Proceedings and Representation

The case, officially titled Jo Bennett v. Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis et al., is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Legal representation for the plaintiff includes Adam Garner of The Garner Firm and R. Joseph Barton of Barton & Downes, underscoring the significance and complexity of the legal battle ahead.

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