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Jessica Nelson’s practice focuses on employment and employee benefits law, including both advice work and litigation. She represents employers and fiduciaries in a wide array of complex matters with an emphasis on defending against discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage and hour, and ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims.

Jessica is experienced with a broad range of civil litigation, with a focus on ERISA litigation and employment defense. She defends employers, benefit plans, third-party administrators, fiduciaries, and individuals in both single-plaintiff lawsuits and class actions. She has appeared before state and federal district and appellate courts, the American Arbitration Association, and various state and federal agencies including the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and state and local fair employment practices agencies. She has also first-chaired jury trials as a visiting attorney with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office.

Jessica also counsels her clients on various aspects of employment law, including risk management, employee discipline and terminations, noncompetition agreements, regulatory compliance, wage-and-hour issues, medical leaves, disability accommodations, and anti-discrimination laws..

Jessica also works with benefit plan administrators, boards of trustees, plan sponsors, plan committees, third party administrators, and other fiduciaries by providing advice on compliance with ERISA and other federal and state laws governing retirement plans and health and welfare plans. She has experience with both single and multi-employer plans.

Prior to joining the firm, Jessica practiced in the litigation department at one of the largest law firms in Minnesota and also spent two years as a law clerk in the chambers of the Honorable James M. Rosenbaum, then Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. She dedicates a portion of her practice to pro bono work and is active in volunteer work.

Practice Areas

  • Labor and Employment Litigation and Counseling
  • Employee Benefits Litigation and Counseling
  • Civil/Commercial Litigation

Representative Litigation

  • Moseley, et al. v. Fairview Health Services : Defended employer in putative class action. Defeated class certification and won summary judgment.
  • Holtze Construction Co. v. Twin City Carpenters and Joiners Pension Plan:Represented employer in arbitration before AAA regarding withdrawal from multi-employer pension plan. Won arbitration, reversing entire withdrawal and liability assessment.
  • Ludwig v. The Church of the Epiphany : Defended employer in suit alleging breach of contract ,age discrimination, good faith and fair dealing, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Won summary judgment on all claims and defeated plaintiff’s cross-motion. Decision affirmed on appeal.
  • Fuentes v. The Church of St. Mark : Represented employer in suit alleging negligent retention and negligent supervision. Successfully moved for summary judgment on all claims and prevailed against plaintiff’s motion for punitive damages.
  • Thorkelson, et al. v. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America : Represented ELCA church-wide organization in putative class action arising out of the termination of Augsburg Fortress Publishing House’s defined benefit pension plan. Obtained dismissal of ERISA and consumer fraud claims on Rule 12 motion in federal district court. Defended against state law breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, and alter ego claims until favorable settlement reached.
  • Keech v. St. James Medical Center, et al. : Represented Mayo-affiliated clinic and hospitals in suit by employee alleging claims involving negligent supervision, negligent retention, breach of medical privacy laws, breach of contract, misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Obtained dismissal of several claims on Rule 12 motion.
  • Kendall v. Int’l. Assoc. of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Workers Local 793 Pension Plan, et al. :  Successfully defended third-party employee benefits plan administrator against claim for benefits. Obtained dismissal of all claims against client on Rule 12 motion to dismiss in federal district court.
  • Cruz, et al. v. Lawson Software : Represented employer in wage and hour, FLSA collective action, venued in federal district court. Successfully moved to have case de-certified, and then successfully moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs were properly classified as exempt.
  • Griffin v. Big Island Entertainment, et al. : Defended video game producer against breach of contract and tortious interference claims. Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims prior to discovery on Rule 12 motion.
  • Estate of Macke v. PureChoice, Inc. et al. :Represented estate in lawsuit to enforce the terms of a prior settlement agreement. Successfully obtained summary judgment for the estate, including an award of attorneys’ fees and costs, and defeated defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment. Decision affirmed on appeal.
  • Olson et al. v. SuperValu, Inc. : Represented corporation in putative class action lawsuit alleging consumer fraud and false advertising claims. Successfully obtained summary judgment for client and prevailed against plaintiffs’ class certification and punitive damages motions.
  • Coleman v. Franken :  Represented candidate in 2008 U.S. Senate election contest. Drafted appellate briefs to Minnesota Supreme Court on constitutional and election law issues.
  • United States ex rel. Barber v. Paychex, Inc., et al .: Represented defendant Ceridian Corporation in qui tam lawsuit alleging False Claims Act claims. Motion to dismiss granted; case dismissed with prejudice.
  • Morrison v. MoneyGram Int’l, Inc. : Defended company, officers, and directors in class action lawsuit in federal district court regarding company’s decision to maintain company stock in its 401(k) Plan.

Professional Certifications, Awards and Designations

  • Named a 2014 Rising Star by Super Lawyers ®

Bar Admissions

  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

Professional Activities and Memberships

  • Federal Bar Association

Education

  • J.D., University of St. Thomas School of Law, summa cum laude, 2005
    • President’s Scholarship (three-year, full tuition)
    • Dean’s List (all semesters)
    • Law Review, Articles Editor
    • Judge Earl R. Larson Award, Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association
  • B.A., University of St. Thomas, summa cum laude, 2000


Articles

  • “Red Flags for Trustees: Detecting Weak Points In Your Fiduciary Armor,” 2014 Benefits Magazine, June Edition

Presentations

  • FMLA Master Class, Family Military Leave, May 2013
  • University of St. Thomas School of Law, Becoming the Integrated Lawyer: Practical Tips on How To Find Joy and Purpose in Your Work, 2012
  • Felhaber Annual Labor & Employment Seminar, Do Your Homework on Working from Home: Legal Issues in Alternative Work Arrangements, 2011
  • Paramount Seminar, Employment Law Update, Minneapolis, 2010
  • Saint Paul’s Outreach, Secretary of the Board of Directors
  • Total LifeCare Centers, Board Member Emeritus
  • Tubman Safety Project, Volunteer Attorney

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