Brendan S. Maher

Founding Partner

Los Angeles

Direct: 214.396.6631


Brendan S. Maher is a founding principal of Stris & Maher. A tenured law professor, he is one of the country’s leading experts on the statutory and regulatory framework of both ERISA and the Affordable Care Act. He is also an expert on federal court procedure and evidence, as well as the law of fiduciary obligation.  An active trial and appellate litigator with a national practice, he frequently serves as counsel in complex commercial disputes that involve healthcare, intellectual property, or business torts.  He has handled cases where millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and billions of dollars have been at stake.

Mr. Maher’s practice customarily involves matters that present a high degree of legal or strategic complexity. Often he is retained when the law’s opacity has frustrated governments, businesses, or individuals attempting to make or defend forward-thinking or innovative choices. For example, he was retained by a multi-billion dollar technology company to investigate and develop novel compensation structures for executives and engineers; he was asked by California to evaluate the applicability of ERISA and the ACA to potential healthcare and insurance regulation; and he was retained by Vermont to defend the validity of its healthcare database.

Mr. Maher is also engaged for his ability to accurately assess fact-bound legal questions and handicap risk. He has counseled owners and executives seeking advice about the internal and external obligations of public and privately-held businesses, including with respect to insurance audits, corporate governance, intellectual property, equity compensation, employment issues, and regulatory best practices.

Mr. Maher received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his A.B. from Stanford University, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Mr. Maher routinely serves as lead trial or appellate counsel in a wide range of complex and high-profile disputes. The matters below are representative of his experience:

Representation of States
Mr. Maher regularly represents government entities throughout the country. He is also retained by states to provide advice on regulatory compliance and assess litigation exposure. For example:

California Department of Managed Health Care [Read more here]
California’s Department of Managed Health Care retained Mr. Maher to assist in navigating the complex intersection of federal and state law governing health insurance. Specifically, Mr. Maher examined the suitability of a variety of potential regulatory approaches, in light of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. [Read more here]
Our firm was retained by the State of Vermont to assist in the preparation of a petition for certiorari (Our Petition) in this important healthcare preemption case. After our petition was granted, Vermont retained our firm to continue as co-counsel on the merits before the Court. After briefing (Our Opening Brief | Our Reply) and oral argument by lead counsel, the Solicitor General of Vermont, the Court rejected our position. Justices Ginsburg and Kagan dissented (Opinions).

Dollar Gen. Corp. v. Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians [Read more here]
Stris & Maher was retained by the State of Mississippi to prepare and file an amicus brief (Our Brief) on a critical question regarding the scope of tribal jurisdiction: whether Indian tribal courts may ever adjudicate civil tort claims in suits against nonmembers. Mr. Maher was instrumental in drafting the brief, which was joined by the States of Mississippi, Colorado, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington and marked the first time that any state had ever supported a finding of tribal jurisdiction in a major case before the Supreme Court. Our side prevailed before an equally divided Court.
Pension Litigation
Mr. Maher litigates pension disputes throughout the country. He is also retained by plan sponsors and their executives to provide advice on regulatory compliance and assess litigation exposure. For example:

Frommert v. Conkright [Read more here]
For nearly a decade, Mr. Maher has served as co-lead counsel for dozens of pensioners in this case against the Xerox pension plan. To date, Xerox has been ordered to pay—and has paid—well more than $16 million to plaintiffs. This epic dispute has already resulted in a published opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 (Supreme Court Opinion | Argument Audio) as well as three published opinions by the Second Circuit, including a major victory for our clients in 2013 (Second Circuit Opinion | Argument Audio). Litigation continues in the trial court where we have filed motions seeking millions of dollars in additional pension benefits, prejudgment interest, and attorneys’ fees.

LaRue v. DeWolff Boberg & Associates, Inc.
In 2006, Mr. Maher and Peter Stris persuaded the United States Supreme Court (Petition) to hear this landmark case about the rights of 401(k) account holders. In 2007, after successful briefing (Our Opening Brief) and argument (Audio), Stris & Maher obtained (Supreme Court Opinion) what the New York Times described as “one of the most important rulings in years on the meaning of the federal pension law. . . .”

Eddingston v. UBS Financial Services; Hendricks v. UBS Financial Services
In 2013, the Eastern District of Texas appointed Stris & Maher as co-lead counsel for a certified class of financial advisers seeking over $200 million that was seized by UBS. Defendants, represented by nationally recognized pension lawyers from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, filed a motion to compel arbitration (Motion). After full briefing and lengthy argument by Mr. Stris in the trial court, that motion was denied (Transcript/Opinion). Defendants, represented by a new team of attorneys from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP (led by the former U.S. Solicitor of Labor), opposed class certification (UBS Opposition). After full briefing (Our Reply) and another lengthy argument by Mr. Stris, the trial court certified the class. After briefing (UBS Brief | Our Fifth Circuit Brief) and argument (Audio) of Defendants’ interlocutory appeal, the Fifth Circuit ordered plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims.
Healthcare Litigation
Mr. Maher litigates healthcare disputes throughout the country. He is also retained by medical providers, government officials, and employers to provide advice on regulatory compliance and assess litigation exposure. For example:

Sovereign v. Health Net [Read more here]
Mr. Maher represents Sovereign Health Group, one of the largest independent behavioral treatment enterprises in the nation, in this case against Health Net.  Health Net has refused to pay Sovereign fair compensation for drug treatment services it rendered to Health Net insureds, and Sovereign is seeking contractual and equitable relief under state law. (Press)

Montanile v. Board of Trustees [Read more here]
After firm lawyers preserved the key legal issue through briefing and argument in the Eleventh Circuit, Mr. Maher and other firm lawyers persuaded the United States Supreme Court (Petition) to hear this important case about the scope of reimbursement rights available to federally regulated health insurance plans. In an 8-1 decision authored by Justice Thomas (Opinion), the Court adopted the position advanced by our firm’s merits briefing (Our Opening Brief | Our Reply) and argument (Argument Audio).

Dual Diagnosis et al. v. Anthem et al. [Read more here]
Stris & Maher is lead trial counsel for plaintiffs, successful addiction treatment facilities, in this multi-million lawsuit against dozens of Blue Cross entities and welfare plans they insure or administer. The lawsuit alleges that Blue Cross has engaged in a nationwide scheme to injure out of network providers in violation of both federal and California law. On May 31, 2016, the Central District of California held a four-hour hearing on defendants’ coordinated motions to dismiss the operative complaint. (Complaint | Motion to Dismiss | Opposition to Motion)

Parties Confidential
Mr. Maher and other firm attorneys represent a group of renowned substance abuse treatment facilities in connection with their complex and high-value disputes with health insurance companies. Mr. Maher also advises these facilities on a variety of business matters with significant legal components, including revenue cycle management and regulatory compliance.
Other Insurance Litigation
Mr. Maher litigates other insurance disputes throughout the country. For example:

Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Acc. Ins. Co.
In 2013, because of his ERISA and insurance expertise, Mr. Maher was asked to serve as the petitioner’s co-counsel in this case about parties’ ability to contractually establish statutes of limitations under ERISA. (Our Brief | Respondents' Brief | Our Reply | Opinion)

Sanborn Alder v. Cigna Group Insurance
Mr. Maher was retained to brief a Fifth Circuit appeal in a life insurance dispute following dismissal in district court. He obtained a favorable settlement after persuading the Department of Labor to file amicus brief in support of client. (Our Fifth Circuit Brief | DOL's Motion | NEBCI's Brief | LINA Brief | CBCA's Brief)

U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen
Mr. Maher served as co-counsel representing Mr. McCutchen before the Supreme Court.  At issue in McCutchen was the degree to which certain equitable defenses could limit a plan’s ability to recoup money from a beneficiary. After determining that equitable defenses could be limited by a plan’s language, the Court held that McCutchen’s plan entitled the defendant to obtain recoupment of the monies subject to a “common fund” reduction for the effort McCutchen’s attorney expended in collecting money from the tortfeasor who caused McCutchen’s injuries in the first place. (Our Brief)

The Energy Conservation Group, LLC, et al. v. Applied Underwriters, Inc., et al.
A well-known regional business purchased an insurance product that failed to comply with state law and subjected the company to the very exposure it sought to insure.  Litigation ensued.  Because the insurer is owned by one of nation’s most successful financial companies, the company brought in Stris & Maher as lead counsel to level the playing field.
Employment Litigation
Mr. Maher supervises junior firm lawyers in the representation of both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of employment disputes involving issues such as wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination, and harassment. In cases involving senior executives, significant damages, or important precedent, Mr. Maher sometimes takes a leading role. Representative examples include:

Halliwell v. Gordon [Read more here]
Stris & Maher represented the former CEO of Bumble & bumble in a New York state court dispute over compensation arising from the $120+ million sale of the company to Estee Lauder. The case was initially dismissed. Mr. Maher argued and obtained reversal of that dismissal before the Second Department. On remand, within days of deposing the defendant, the firm obtained a highly favorable confidential settlement.
Intellectual Property Litigation
Grasshopper House LLC v. Clean & Sober Media LLC, et al.
In 2019, we successfully represented defendants at back-to-back federal trials in this high-stakes Lanham Act false advertising case. (Our clients’ 7-figure pre-trial settlement offer was rejected by the plaintiff who instead sought $65 million in damages, which it asked to be trebled.) Although the jury found a Lanham Act violation, we convinced the court to exclude the plaintiff’s damages expert. A bench trial over equitable remedies and defenses followed, after which the court issued a final judgment denying the plaintiff any monetary recovery. (Order | Denial of Costs)

Smith v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., et al. [Read more here]
In 2012, Mr. Maher and a team of firm attorneys began defending Barnes & Noble in this lawsuit alleging Copyright and Lanham Act violations. In late 2015, the district court granted summary judgment, dismissing the case in its entirety. See e.g., Kurt Orzeck, Barnes & Noble Beats IP Suit Over Cloud-Stored E-Books, Nov. 2, 2015 (subscription required). In late 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed. See e.g., Bill Donahue, 2nd Circ. Dodges 'Novel' Cloud Storage Copyright Questions, Oct. 6, 2016 (subscription required).
Securities Litigation
Mr. Maher litigates disputes involving both public and private companies in trial and appellate courts throughout the country. For example:

Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Manning [Read more here]
In May, 2016, the firm prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in this important securities jurisdiction case. Mr. Maher served as Counsel of Record for a group of investors who sued several major financial institutions in New Jersey state court for violations of New Jersey law. The suit alleges that the defendants’ illegal practices precipitated a loss of over $800 million in shareholder value. Led by Merrill Lynch, the financial institutions argued that the federal securities laws required the plaintiffs to sue in federal court. The Court disagreed, holding unanimously that the case should proceed in state court. (Merits Brief | Opinion)
Other Notable Cases
Microsoft v. Baker [Read more here]
Mr. Maher serves as Counsel of Record for plaintiffs, a putative class of consumers, in this design defect case alleging that Microsoft’s popular Xbox360 console scratches game discs during ordinary use. The case, which presents important questions about class action procedure, has been fully briefed (Our Brief) and will be argued by Peter Stris in October, 2016.

Parties Confidential
Mr. Maher and other firm lawyers developed a comprehensive constitutional challenge to state laws limiting the ability of non-residents to participate on equal terms in the local marijuana marketplace. Mr. Maher’s work helped convince legislators to pass or amend laws eliminating the challenged restrictions for non-resident individuals and businesses.
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Harvard, J.D. (2000)
Stanford, A.B. (1997)