Thomas M. 'Tom' Christina

Profile

Employee Benefits Practice

Tom Christina counsels clients on plan design, regulatory, operational, and compliance issues relating to employee benefit plans of all kinds, including defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans with benefit structures tailored to individual client needs.  In addition, he advises employers regarding the employee benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and corporate reorganizations.  Mr. Christina also represents employers and plan administrators in benefits-related controversies, including disputes with multiemployer pension plans involving assessments of “withdrawal liability” under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980.

Since 2010, Mr. Christina has counseled employers and industry groups on regulatory and compliance issues under the Affordable Care Act.  He speaks and writes frequently on specific aspects of agency guidance under the Act, such as grandfathered health plan status, implementation of mandated coverage terms, and planning for employer mandates that become applicable in 2014.

Appellate Litigation & Government Affairs

Mr. Christina has represented clients in appellate matters for more than 25 years, in cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court, spanning a wide range of legal issues.  Most recently, he submitted an amicus brief to the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce in Florida v. HHS, urging the court to rule that the Affordable Care Act is invalid.  In the Supreme Court, Mr. Christina wrote an amicus brief supporting the petitioners on Severability, which was filed on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Thomas P. Miller of AEI, and nine other healthcare finance experts.  He also was of counsel on an amicus brief supporting the States on the Medicaid Expansion question in that case, which was submitted on behalf of more than 50 members of the Indiana legislature and the James Madison Institute.

Mr. Christina also is a member of the Firm’s Government Affairs practice.  He represented the interests of small and independent business during the legislative process leading up to the adoption of the Affordable Care Act.  He advises business groups that submit comments on proposed regulations under the ACA, seeking to curb some of the regulatory excesses of the agencies with rule-making authority under the Act.  In addition, he has written and spoken on strategies for employer groups to protect their interests in the face of regulatory over-reaching by the National Labor Relations Board.

During the Reagan Administration, Mr. Christina served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and later as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, in the U.S. Department of Justice.  He writes and speaks frequently on regulatory, legislative, and Constitutional issues affecting the employer community, and has been quoted in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Investors Business Daily.


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Experience

Experience: 

Mr. Christina has assisted clients in a variety of industries with such employee benefits matters as:

  • Resolving qualified plan compliance issues with the Internal Revenue Service
  • Plan mergers and spin-offs
  • Compliance with provisions of the Affordable Care Act
  • Resolving claims for withdrawal liabilities on behalf of employers participating in multiemployer pension plans
  • Advising clients regarding the employee benefits aspects of corporate acquisitions, divestitures, and reorganizations
  • Benefit plan design, with emphasis on strategies for compliance with coverage and non-discrimination requirements necessary to preserve tax-favored status

Mr. Christina has represented clients in appellate matters involving such issues as:

  • The validity of laws requiring employers to provide employee benefits that meet criteria set by states and municipalities
  • Whether the unconstitutionality of a portion of a statute requires or permits a court to declare that the entire statute is invalid
  • The illegality defense in breach of contract actions
  • Whether ERISA permits imposing liability in favor of a plaintiff who did not show that any harm resulted from distribution of a summary plan after the deadline for doing so.

Education and Honors

Education: 

J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1980
A.B., Cornell University, 1977

Honors and Awards: 
  • Best Lawyers in America (2003-present)

Professional Activities

Professional Activities: 
  • Southern Employee Benefits Conference
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Employee Benefits Committee)
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (Member, Board of Legal Advisors)
Speeches:
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Business Fights Back: Tales From the Front Lines of Litigation" - Phoenix - May 11, 2012
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Benefits Litigation - Fiduciaries Face Mounting Exposure" - Phoenix - May 11, 2012
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Healthcare Reform - What Happens Next?" - Chicago - May 12, 2011
  • New Braunfels (TX) Chamber of Commerce and Ogletree Deakins seminar - "Obamacare: What Employers Need to Do to Comply" - San Antonio - December 9, 2010
  • American Enterprise Institute - "Who’s in Charge: More Legal Challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (panelist)" - Washington, D.C. - December 6, 2010
  • Small Business Virtual Summit - "Healthcare 411 (panelist)" - Washington, D.C. - October 20, 2010
  • Small Business Coalition for Affordable Healthcare webinar - "Six Month “Wellness” Check-Up on Healthcare Reform" - September 22, 2010
  • Heritage Foundation - "Obamacare: Rewarding the Trial Bar and Promoting Litigation?" - Washington, D.C. - September 15, 2010
  • Upstate Chamber of Commerce Coalition - "Healthcare Reform Update" - Greer - August 25, 2010
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the American Action Forum - "Behind the Curtain: The Health Care Law’s Impact on Small Business (panelist)" - Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins webinar - "Grandfathered Plan Status under the Affordable Care Act—The Effect of New Agency Guidance on Employer Health Plans" - July 14, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Historic Healthcare Overhaul: What It Means for Employers" - Las Vegas - May 7, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins webinar - "Historic Healthcare Overhaul: What It Means for Employers" - April 21, 2010
  • Printing Industries of America webinar - "Responding to Health Care Reform: Plan Design and Taxes" - April 20, 2010
  • Greenville County Manufacturers’ Association and the Greenville County Chamber of Commerce - "Historic Healthcare Overhaul: What It Means for Employers" - Greenville - April 14, 2010

In The News

Media Quotes:
  • August 8, 2014 - The Greenville News - "Obamacare Fight Started Here"
  • July 24, 2014 - Wall Street Journal - "The Lawyer Who Helped Spark This Week's Affordable Care Act Rulings"
  • July 23, 2014 - The Fiscal Times - "Obamacare Could Go Back to the Supreme Court"
  • July 22, 2014 - Employment Law Daily - "Federal Appeals Court Axes Subsidies for Federally Run Health Insurance Exchanges"
  • July 22, 2014 - Wolters Kluwer Health Reform Talk - "Federal Appeals Court Axes Federally-Run Health Insurance Exchange Subsidies"
  • March 24, 2014 - National Law Journal - "Lawsuit Really Goes to the Heart of the Affordable Care Act"
  • July 8, 2013 - SHRM.org - "Reasons Floated for Delay in Health Care Reform's Employer Mandate"
  • October 26, 2012 - Law360 - "ACA Deadlines Loom As Questions Remain For Employers"
  • June 28, 2012 - Law360 - "With ACA Affirmed, Employers Must Prepare For 2014"
  • June 28, 2012 - Investor's Business Daily - "Court Rules Mandate A Tax, Re-Energizing Campaign Against ObamaCare"
  • June 21, 2012 - Investor's Business Daily - "How Will Supreme Court Deal With ObamaCare’s Medicaid Issue?"
  • May 1, 2012 - Practical Law Journal - "Expert Q&A on the US Supreme Court Oral Arguments on Health Care Reform"
  • April 2, 2012 - Workforce Management - "Little Change for HR in Wake of Health Reform Hearings"
  • March 29, 2012 - Employee Benefit Adviser - "A legal recap of SCOTUS and PPACA: Day 2 and 3 (podcast)"
  • March 29, 2012 - Fox Business - "Businesses Ponder Impact of Health-Care Reform"
Published Works:
  • July 2, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Administration Announces Plan to Postpone Employer Mandate Assessments Until 2015"
  • December 17, 2010 - Affordable Care Act Compliance Report, Special Bulletin - "New Guidance on Small Business Tax Credit"
  • November 2010 - Printing Industries of America: The Magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 6 - "Affordable Care Act—Preventive Health Care"
  • September 2010 - Printing Industries of America: The Magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 5 - "Affordable Care Act—Grandfathered Guidelines"
  • 2010 - Aspatore Books - "The Impact of Recent Legislation on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage"
  • 2006/2012 - American Chamber of Commerce Resources - "Employee Benefits – An Employer’s Guide"