R. Joseph Barton

(202) 734-5458

R. Joseph Barton, a Partner at the Firm, is the Chair of the Firm’s Employee Benefits Group and the Firm’s Veterans/Servicemember Rights Group. Mr. Barton has more than 16 years experience handling a diverse array of complex and class litigation. Mr. Barton has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating, has been selected every year since 2013 as a Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer, has a 10.0 rating from Avvo, and is listed in the Marquis’ Who’s Who in American Law.

Over the last 16 years, Mr. Barton has handled a wide variety of employee benefit (i.e. ERISA) cases.  He has been trial counsel in four ERISA cases.  He was lead trial counsel in a case challenging a complex transaction involving the Trachte ESOP and the Alliance ESOP on behalf of a class of employees of Trachte, Chesemore v. Alliance Holdings, Inc., No. 3:09-cv-00413 (W.D. Wis.).  In that case, Mr. Barton obtained favorable trial decisions on a liability and remedies of more than $17 million (plus prejudgment interest) for the Class which was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit.  In Severstal Wheeling Inc. Ret. Comm. v. WPN Corporation, No. 10-cv-954 (S.D.N.Y.), Mr. Barton was lead trial counsel representing the fiduciaries of two pension plans suing their former investment manager for improper investments and obtained a judgment for plaintiffs of over $15 million which was affirmed by the Second Circuit.

After graduating law school, Mr. Barton served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Lenore C. Nesbitt, United States District Judge for Southern District of Florida. Mr. Barton considers pro bono representation an important part of his practice and has represented clients in actions concerning their employer’s failure to pay wages and/or overtime.

Notable Cases »

  • Chesemore v. Alliance Holdings, Inc. (W.D. Wis.)
  • Mr. Barton was lead trial counsel in this class action that challenged a complex transaction involving Trachte ESOP and the Alliance ESOP on behalf of Trachte employees; litigation led to remedies of $17.2 million (plus prejudgment interest), a decision then affirmed by the Seventh Circuit.
  • Severstal Wheeling Inc. Ret. Comm. v. WPN Corporation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Mr. Barton was lead trial counsel representing the fiduciaries of two pension plans suing their former investment manager; obtained a judgment for plaintiffs of over $15 million, a decision then affirmed by the Second Circuit.
  • Ahrens. v. UCB Pension Plan (N.D. Ga.)
  • Mr. Barton was co-lead class counsel representing participants challenging the calculation of their benefits and alleged overpayment.  Obtained a class settlement of $5.5 million which was 60% of claimed benefits.
  • Slipchenko v. Brunel (S.D. Tex.)
  • Mr. Barton was lead counsel in this class action involving the failure to properly pay COBRA benefits and obtained the largest per class member settlement in any reported COBRA class action matter.
  • Simpson v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (N.D. Cal.)
  • Mr. Barton represented a class of employees alleging that FFIC’s policy of terminated persons on disability violated the discrimination provisions of ERISA and obtained a settlement restoring their right to benefits for a period of years and reimbursement of past expenses.
  • Various Litigation involving ESOPs: Mr. Barton has litigated and is litigating several private ESOP cases, including the Wawa ESOP, the Rainbow Disposal ESOP, the Jeld-Wen ESOP, the Tharaldson Motels, Inc. ESOP, and the Azon Corporation ESOP.
  • Mehling v. New York Life Ins. Co. (E.D. Pa.)
  • Mr. Barton litigated one of the earliest class actions challenging the prudence of investment and fees of the pension and 401(k) plans sponsored by New York Life Insurance Company.  Settlement of $ 14 million
  • Mr. Barton provided an expert opinion on the scope of ERISA in a European case, Deminor International & all v/ Ageas/ BNP Paribas Fortis / Merrill Lynch International, Court of Commerce of Brussels, Chamber 14°, Docket numbers: R.G. n°A/10/00744, R.G. n° A/12/05781, R.G. n° A/12/09039 & R.G. n° A/12/09035.
  • Served as counsel to Independent Fiduciary of Plans in connection with negotiation and settlement of claims involving securities lending.

Pro Bono Work »

Judicial Commentary »

Institutional Client Representation »

Publications & Speaking Engagements »

  • Author, “Navigating the Unfriendly Skies of ERISA Reimbursement,” Trial Magazine (2014)
  • Author, “Determining the Meaning of ‘Direct Evidence’ in Discrimination Cases Within the Eleventh Circuit: Why Judge Tjoflat was (W)right,” 77 Fla.B.J. 42 (2003)
  • Author, “Drowning in A Sea of Contract: Application of the Economic Loss Rule to Fraud and Negligent Misrepresentation Claims,” 41 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1789 (2000)
  • Author, “Utilizing Statistics and Bellweather Plaintiff Trials: What do the Constitution and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Permit?” 8 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 199 (1999).
  • Speaker on ERISA and Class Actions at the numerous ABA Employee Benefits Mid-Winter meetings, numerous conferences by the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, and conferences by the American Conference Institute, and others. For a full list, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/r-joseph-barton-6ba0273/.
  • Currently Plaintiffs’ Co-Chair of the Civil Procedure Subcommittee for the ABA Employee Benefits Committee (2012 to Present).
  • Current member of the Programming Committee for the ABA Employee Benefits Committee, which is responsible for all of the planning for the Committee’s Midwinter conference.
  • Former Co-Chair of the American Association of Justice (AAJ) Class Action Litigation Group (2014 to 2016).
  • Current member of the Publications Committee for the AAJ, which oversees the selection and review of articles for AAJ’s award winning magazine, Trial (2013 to present).
  • Former Chair of the Employment Rights Section of the AAJ (2013 to 2014).

Professional Organizations / Awards »

Publications »

Languages »

Clerkship »


  • College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law (J.D. 2000), Order of the Coif
  • Lawrence W. I’Anson Award for outstanding student scholarship, character and leadership
  • William B. Sprong Award for professionalism and ethics
  • Robert R. Kaplan Award for excellence in legal writing
  • Order of the Barristers
  • Editorial board of the William & Mary Law Review
  • Staff member of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
  • Member of the William & Mary National Trial Team
  • College of William & Mary (B.A. 1991), History and minor in Classical Studies

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • District of Columbia
  • Southern District of California
  • Central District of California
  • Northern District of California
  • Eastern District of California
  • District of Maryland
  • Northern District of Texas
  • Western District of Texas
  • Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • Western District of Wisconsin
  • District of North Dakota
  • Northern District of Illinois
  • District of Nebraska
  • District of Colorado