René E. Thorne is the Managing Shareholder and Litigation Manager of the New Orleans, Louisiana office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice covers the full range of employee benefit litigation matters, including representation of employers, plans, plan fiduciaries, and trustees. In that regard, she has handled numerous ERISA class actions for clients such as Nortel Networks, Target, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Owens Healthcare, United Airlines ESOP Committee, Dunbar Armored, United Companies, Benefits Administration Corporation, and Beverly Enterprises. René also has handled benefits and employment matters for such clients as for Alcatel-Lucent, Raytheon, Pfizer, Omega Protein, Northwest Airlines, Amtrak, United Airlines, Turner Industries, Starwood Hotels, and Sempra Energy. René has been retained as an expert in complex ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, prohibited transaction, and cash balance cases. René has been qualified and testified in United States Tax Court.
Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers lists Ms. Thorne as a leading ERISA litigator. In addition, she has been named a Louisiana Super Lawyer for the last several years, and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. In 2011, René was named as one of “The Most Powerful Employment Attorneys in America” by Law Dragon/Human Resource Executive and for 2012, she was named Best Lawyers’ New Orleans Employment Law - Management Lawyer of the Year.
Ms. Thorne has been quoted in and authored several articles on ERISA issues including most recently, Conkright v. Frommert- One Year Later: Are Courts Getting It Right?, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (May 19, 2011); High Court Vacates CIGNA Pension Case; Sets Stage for Expanded ERISA Remedies, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (May 17, 2011); Employer Stock: Court Adopts DOL's Safe Harbor Reading, Affirms Ruling in Motorola ‘Stock-Drop' Case, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (January 26, 2011); Court Certifies Class Action of Pension Plans, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (August 6, 2010); Two Years Later: The Legacy Of Larue, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (March 10, 2010); Employer Stock Decisions Spike in 2009 After Rocky Economy Ignites Litigation, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (Dec. 21, 2009); Rising Tide of Complex ERISA Litigation Presents Myriad of Class Certification Issues, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (September 18, 2009); ERISA Plan Fiduciaries Take Aim at Each Other as Investment Losses Rise, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (Feb. 26, 2009); The Evolution and Future of the ERISA Stock-Drop Cases, Employment Law 360 (Jan. 2009); Year in Review: 2008 Proves to Be Eventful in Employee Benefits Litigation, BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (Jan. 5, 2009).
Ms. Thorne also is an author of ERISA Litigation Issues In The Face Of Bankruptcy, The College of Labor & Employer Lawyers Newsletter (Fall 2006); Unforeseen Pitfalls in Settling Fiduciary Breach Claims with Individual Plaintiffs, Employee Benefits Committee Newsletter (Spring 2006); ERISA Mutual Fund Litigation: Another Front In The Post-Enron 401(K) Plan Wars, Professional Liability Underwriting Society Journal (2004); and ERISA Preemption: To Infinity and Beyond and Back Again? (A Historical Review of Supreme Court Jurisprudence), Vol. 58 Louisiana Law Review 997 (1998). In addition, she is the chapter author of “When is Class Action Appropriate?” in ERISA Litigation (BNA 2d ed. 2005, 2006-2010 Supplements, and 3d ed.), and a contributing author to Employee Benefits Law (2d ed. BNA 2000 and 3d ed. 2011).
Ms. Thorne also lectures on numerous ERISA-related topics. Her recent speeches and seminars include “ERISA Class Actions – Up Close and Personal: An In-Depth Look at the Myriad of Complex and Ever-Evolving Issues” BNA Audio-conference; “401(k) Plan Litigation: Employer Stock Suits Continue but Has Hecker v. Deere Changed the Fee Case Landscape?” ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; “The Mist – Navigating the Fog of ERISA," LSU School of Law Labor and Employment Law Conference; “The 401(k) & ESOP Employer Stock Cases: Cases and Issues,” Professional Liability Underwriting Society International Conference; “ERISA Litigation as a Contact Sport,” Women’s Executive Legal Conference; “Litigating the New Breed of ERISA Class Actions,” Glasser ERISA Litigation Conference; “After Enron: Employer Stock in 401(k) Plans,” ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; “Recent Developments in Health Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives for Employees," ABA Taxation Section Employee Benefits Committee Meeting; “ERISA Remedies After Great West – Are There Any?”; “Employees in a Disaster: What to Do After Katrina,” ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; “Managing in a Crisis: Employment, Employee Benefits, and Insurance Law Issues for Employers Affected by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina,” American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association.
Ms. Thorne is active on the Employee Benefits Subcommittee of the Labor and Employment Section of the American Bar Association, and was recently the Management Co-Chair of the Employee Benefits Subcommittee Newsletter. She is a member of and lecturer for the ABA/EEO Liaison Committee of the American Bar Association, a past instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, a volunteer attorney for the New Orleans Pro Bono Project, and a former Barrister in the Thomas More Inn of Court.
Ms. Thorne is admitted to practice before the state courts of Louisiana; the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Western, and Middle Districts of Louisiana; the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. During the course of her national practice, she has been admitted pro hac vice in courts across the country, including Alabama, the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
Ms. Thorne received her J.D. in 1993 from Loyola University School of Law, where she was a member of the Loyola Law Review and Moot Court.