ERISA Expert Services, LLC was founded by Joseph A. Garofolo to provide expert witness and independent fiduciary services relating to retirement and health and welfare plans.

With significant independent fiduciary experience and as a recognized employee benefits attorney, Mr. Garofolo is knowledgeable regarding a variety of ERISA issues. He has been retained as an expert witness in federal and state court litigation.


Joseph A. Garofolo

Mr. Garofolo began his career in the field of employee benefits in 1999 with the U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (now the Employee Benefits Security Administration). At the Department of Labor, he was responsible for research and analysis relating to government investigations of alleged ERISA violations in the Detroit District Office. After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, he was an associate at a large international law firm focusing his practice on employee benefits before starting his own law firm in 2003.

From 2003 to 2010, in addition to practicing law, Mr. Garofolo served as a principal with ERISA Consulting Group, a company that provides independent fiduciary, expert witness, and consulting services. Some of the independent fiduciary engagements in which he was involved include the following:

  • Transaction for the sale of closely held shares by an employee stock ownership plan;
  • Real property acquisition by a collectively bargained plan; and
  • Evaluation of the reasonableness of plan expenses and expense allocation among related parties and service providers.

As an attorney, Mr. Garofolo has advised clients with respect to fiduciary compliance, service provider arrangements, and various other issues relating to the design, management, and administration of employee benefit plans. He has served as counsel for plan sponsors, participants, service providers, medical providers, and others. Mr. Garofolo has represented clients involved in ERISA litigation in federal courts across the country.

Mr. Garofolo's expertise extends to a variety of plans and arrangements. He has worked with 401(k) plans, employee stock ownership plans, money purchase pension plans, and other types of retirement plans, including defined benefit plans. In the health and welfare plan context, he has experience with fully insured and self-funded arrangements and is knowledgeable regarding the requirements of ERISA's claims regulation.

In 2012, Mr. Garofolo was selected by California Lawyer as a recipient of the California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award in the field of employee benefits. CLAY Awards honor California attorneys who "have changed the law, substantially influenced public policy or the profession, or achieved a remarkable victory for a client or for the public." More information regarding the CLAY Award can be accessed here. He was also selected to the 2014 and 2015 Northern California Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers is a Thomson Reuters rating service of lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Mr. Garofolo currently holds the designation of Group Benefits Associate ("GBA"). The GBA designation is awarded through a joint program of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The GBA designation requires exams for three courses to be passed: i) GBA 1 (Group Health Plan Design); ii) GBA 2 (Group Benefits Management); and iii) GBA 3 (Health Care: Financing, Quality, and Reform).

Topics covered by the GBA curriculum include employee benefit planning, risk management, health plan designs and cost-control, the managed care spectrum, consumer-driven health plans, prescription drug plans, behavioral health care benefits, wellness programs, fiduciary and ethical responsibility, individual and group life insurance alternatives, disability income programs, flexible benefits, plan administration, technology and communication, taxation of group plan benefits, workers' compensation, social insurance concepts, welfare benefits for retirees, long-term care, strategic plan design amidst an evolving environment, underwriting and rate making, application of risk adjustment, effect of selective contracting, premium price sensitivity and out-of-network health insurance, quality of care, health insurance exchanges, and retiree coverage.

Much of Mr. Garofolo's practice as an attorney has focused on the standards of conduct imposed by ERISA. He has extensive knowledge and experience regarding the fiduciary duty provisions set forth in ERISA § 404 and the prohibited transaction and self-dealing provisions of ERISA § 406. He is well versed on the standard for ERISA liability of fiduciary and nonfiduciary service providers as well as other parties often involved in employee benefits litigation.

Excerpt of Mr. Garofolo's oral argument before an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.