James Pieper Keenley

Jim Keenley

James Pieper Keenley

Partner
Location:
Berkeley, California
Phone:
510-284-5662
Email:

Mr. Keenley specializes in representing plaintiffs in cases under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") and handles all manner of ERISA cases, including disability benefits, health care benefits, life insurance benefits, retirement and pension matters, and severance benefits.  His work has resulted in numerous victories for plaintiffs and a number of published opinions on important areas of ERISA jurisprudence.  Including, the following notable cases:
Doe v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, 245 F. Supp. 3d 1172 (C.D. Cal. 2017), and 258 F. Supp. 3d 1089 (C.D. Cal. 2017) -- This case concerned a dispute between the plaintiff and Prudential over whether Mr. Doe's disability was subject to a two year limitation on mental health illnesses in Prudential's policy.  After four years of fighting, Mr. Keenley successfully persuaded the court that Mr. Doe's disability was caused by HIV and specifically HIV neurocognitive decline, and that HIV associated neurocognitive problems were not mental health illnesses within the meaning of the policy, both of which are ground-breaking results in this area of the law.  The case resulted in the plaintiff recovering over $1,000,0000 in past-due benefits and securing an ongoing income stream worth more than four million dollars, along with separate recoveries of $348,595 in attorney's fees, and prejudgment interest in excess of $250,000. 
Hart v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, 253 F. Supp. 3d 1053 (N.D. Cal. 2017) -- In this case the plaintiff, Nancy Hart, had her long term disability benefits terminated after more than six years of continuous payment despite the fact that she continued to suffer from degenerative disc disease throughout her spine.  Mr. Keenley persuaded the court to overturn Unum's wrongful denial of benefits, despite Unum's reliance on an independent medical examiner to support the denial.  Mr. Keenley's work resulted in the court finding that one of Unum's in-house physicians had made accounts of a phone call with Ms. Hart's treating physician that lacked credibility, and that Unum's independent medical examiner failed to give adequate weight to the medical evidence or to Ms. Hart's long history of debilitating back pain.  The case resulted in a judgment in Ms. Harts' favor, a recovery of over $250,000 in past-due benefits plus interest, and a recovery of over $190,000 in attorney's fees. 
Barling v.  UEBT Retiree Health Plan, 145 F. Supp. 3d 890 (N.D. Cal. 2016) -- In this case Mr. Keenley represented a class of participants and beneficiaries in the retiree health plan sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Worker's joint labor-management trust fund.  Mr. Keenley and co-counsel successfully obtained summary judgment in favor of the class of participants resulting in the restoration of over $800,000 in improperly charged deductibles.

Mr. Keenley received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and has been admitted to practice in California since 2007.  While in law school Mr. Keenley served as the Co-Editor In Chief of the Berkeley Journal of International Law, and he was a member of the California Law Review, in which he published "How Many Injuries Does It Take? Article III Standing in the Class Action Context, 95 Cal. Law Rev. 849 (2007), a scholarly analysis of constitutional standing issues in class action litigation that has been cited favorably as an authority on the subject by Witkin's Summary of Constitutional Law, the New York University Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and in numerous briefs to the United States Supreme Court, among many other treatises, law reviews, judicial decisions, and briefs.

Outside of work, Jim is dad to three children, an avid recreational softball player, and a dedicated gym rat.

Areas of Practice

  • ERISA
  • Financial Abuse of the Elderly
  • Bad Faith Insurance
  • Agent / Broker Malpractice and Professional Negligence

Bar Admissions

  • California, 2007

Education

  • University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California
    • J.D. - 2007
    • Law Journal: Berkeley Journal of International Law, Editor in Chief, 2006 - 2007
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
    • B.A.
    • Major: Political Science

Representative Cases

  • Dragu v. Motion Picture Industry Health Plan for Active Participants, 2015 WL 7274202, --- F. Supp. 3d ---- (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Dragu v. Motion Picture Industry Health Plan for Active Participants, 2016 WL 454066, --- F. Supp. 3d ---- (N.D. Cal. 2016)
  • Ruggeri v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 585 F. Supp. 2d 308 (D. Conn. 2008)
  • Barling v. UEBT Retiree Health Plan, 2015 WL 4623611 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Alberts v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, 65 F. Supp. 3d 790 (N.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Brown v. California Law Enforcement Association, Long Term Disability Plan, 81 F. Supp. 3d 930 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • McKenna v. Avaya, Inc., 2010 WL 1459821 (N.D. Cal. 2010)
  • White v. Athene Life & Annuity Co., et al.

Representative Clients

  • Doe v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. - 245 F. Supp. 3d 1172 (2017)
  • Doe v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. - 285 F. Supp. 3d 1089 (2017)
  • Hart v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am. - 253 F. Supp. 3d 1053 (2017)
  • Barling v. UEBT Retiree Health Plan - 145 F. Supp. 3d 890 (2016)
  • Dragu v. Motion Picture Indus. Health Plan - 159 F. Supp. 3d 1121 (2016)

Honors and Awards

  • California Super Lawyers, 2016 - 2019
  • California Rising Stars (for attorneys under age 35 only), 2011 - 2015

Languages

  • English