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H. Douglas Hinson

H. Douglas Hinson is the leader of Alston & Bird's ERISA Litigation Group and a member of the Securities Litigation Group. He has led the defense of numerous Fortune 500, government, private and non-profit clients in all types of ERISA class actions, including 401(k) fee and employer stock matters, welfare benefit terminations, defined benefit calculation and anti-cutback actions, and severance matters. In addition, Mr. Hinson has substantial experience and expertise in securities, complex commercial and insurance class action litigation. He has been recognized as a “national leader” in ERISA litigation by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Best Lawyers in America and The Legal 500 publications, and is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and Super Lawyers magazine. Mr. Hinson is the past chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, and chair of the CLE Committee of the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, of the American Bar Association.  He is a noted author and speaker on various topics related to ERISA, securities and transaction-based litigation. He received his J.D. degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center. He is a presenter in the Advanced Certificate in Employee Benefits Law Seminar.

Education

  • Georgetown University (J.D., 1986)
  • Emory University (B.A., 1982)

Recent Representations

  • Camera v. Dell Inc., et al (United States District Court for the Western District of Texas). Mr. Hinson represented Dell and various individual fiduciaries of the Dell defined contribution plan in a matter involving Dell stock in the plan. The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, and affirmed its decision after the plaintiff filed an amended complaint.
  • Romero v. Nokia, Inc., et al, (United States District Court for the Northern District of California). Mr. Hinson defended Nokia and related individuals in an employer stock-drop case against Nokia based on publicly reported difficulties with Nokia’s transition to new products and a resulting drop in its stock price. The defendants prevailed on a motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff was persuaded not to appeal.
  • In re Nokia, Inc. ERISA Litigation (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals). Mr. Hinson recently won a motion to dismiss all claims brought by participants in the Nokia Retirement Savings and Investment Plan. The plaintiffs alleged that Nokia, Inc. and other Nokia, Inc. directors and officials engaged in breaches of the fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty, the duty to communicate complete and accurate information to plan participants and beneficiaries, the duty to monitor, and co-fiduciary liability.
  • Zimlich v. Lender Processing Services, Inc. (United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida). Mr. Hinson obtained a complete dismissal with prejudice of all claims in this employer stock class action, and convinced the plaintiffs not to appeal.
  • Scott et al., v. Williams et al. (Supreme Court of Florida). Mr. Hinson represented the Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and the State, both at trial and the appeal to the Supreme Court, in this case in which plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s 2011 pension reform legislation. The Supreme Court found for our clients that the legislation is constitutional. This case impacts the pensions of over 500,000 state and municipal employees, and saves billions of dollars in the State budget over many years.
  • McCullough et al. v. National Association of Counties, et al. (United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida). Mr. Hinson represented the National Association of Counties (NACo) in a putative nationwide class action alleging that NACo breached fiduciary duties arising under ERISA and/or state law based on their endorsement of products and services offered by its co-defendant, Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. The Court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation v. Rolland Divin, et al. (United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia). Mr. Hinson represented former members of the Tom’s Foods Inc. Investment Committee against allegations regarding the retirement plan's purchase of employer-issued bonds. The matter was settled on favorable terms while a summary judgment motion was pending.

Press

  • Alston & Bird Attorneys Named Best Lawyers in America 2015
    One hundred and forty-seven Alston & Bird lawyers, including H. Douglas Hinson, have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers In America. The lawyers span the firm’s eight U.S. offices and represent more than 60 different practice areas.
  • Doug Hinson Quoted in Law360
    Doug Hinson, leader of the firm’s ERISA Litigation Group, was quoted in the Law360 article, “High Court’s ERISA Shift Leaves Defense Bar Unshaken.”
  • Twenty-one Alston & Bird practices have been listed in the 2014 Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. These include Antitrust; Banking & Finance; Bankruptcy/Restructuring; Construction; Corporate/M&A; Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation; Energy; Environment; ERISA Litigation; Government: Government Relations; Healthcare; Immigration; Intellectual Property; International Trade; Labor & Employment; Litigation: General Commercial, including White-Collar and Securities Litigation; Outsourcing; Privacy & Data Security; Real Estate; REITs; and Tax.
  • Doug Hinson Quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Doug Hinson, leader of the firm’s ERISA Litigation Group, was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article discussing how Atlanta’s municipal pensions are short almost $4.4 billion of the assets they need to pay benefits promised to tens of thousands of local government employees, retirees and their families.
  • ERISA Litigation Team Scores Victory for Nokia In California
    The district court held that plaintiff, a participant in the Nokia, Inc. 401k plan, failed to plausibly allege that Nokia stock was an “imprudent” investment for the plan during the period of January 2012 to the present.

Publications

  • "What SCOTUS' Stock Drop Decision Means for ERISA," Workforce.com, August 19, 2014.
    On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its unanimous decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. The ruling will likely lead to an increase in the number “stock drop” lawsuits brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by 401(k) plan participants against the fiduciaries – or officers – of those plans due to a drop in the value of employer stock. The decision, however, does not necessarily mean there is a greater likelihood of success for the plaintiffs of such lawsuits.
  • ERISA Advisory: Supreme Court Rejects “Presumption of Prudence” for ESOP Fiduciaries, But Nonetheless Sets a High Bar for the Plausibility of Employer Stock Drop Claims
    The advisory discusses the Supreme Court decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer that unanimously ruled fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) are not entitled to a presumption of prudence with regard to investments in employer securities.
  • "'Presumption of Prudence' In ERISA Cases at Risk?" Law360, December 4, 2013.
  • "H. Douglas Hinson Says ERISA Litigation Will Continue to Grow for the Foreseeable Future," ERISA Litigation Tracker Litigator Q&A, November 22, 2013.
  • “Florida Supreme Court Upholds Right of Legislature to Prospectively Alter Public Employee Retirement Benefits,” Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 26, No.2, Summer 2013.
    On January 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of Florida reversed the decision of a trial court and upheld various legislative modifications to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). The impact of this decision on Florida’s budget is nearly $1 billion per year.
  • “Florida Supreme Court Upholds Prospective Changes to State’s Public Employees Retirement System,” Employee Benefit Plan Review, May 2013.
  • ERISA Litigation Advisory: High Court Issues Half-Victory for ERISA Plan Administrators—Reinforcing the Importance of Clear, Unambiguous Plan Terms
    This advisory discusses the Supreme Court’s recent decision in US Airways v. McCutchen—a decision that can best be described as a half-victory for sponsors and administrators of ERISA-governed plans.
  • "Case Study: Tussey v. ABB," Law360, September 6, 2012.
  • This is No Fable: Eleventh Circuit Adopts Moench Presumption and Rejects Duty to Disclose Non-Public Information Under ERISA with Regard to Employer Stock
  • "Can You Keep A Secret? Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work-Product Doctrine in the ERISA/Fiduciary Context," BNA, Benefits Practice Resource Center, July 2011.
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