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Patricia A. Lee

Chair, ERISA and Benefit Plan Litigation

Overview

Patricia Lee is an experienced and tenacious litigator who has handled a broad spectrum of civil and criminal cases in state and federal court. A member of Connell Foley’s Executive Committee, she currently represents the firm’s clients in the areas of healthcare and commercial litigation, construction, class action defense, white collar criminal defense and internal investigations. An aggressive advocate, Patti honed her trial skills and strong attention to detail early in her career as a criminal defense lawyer. She frequently represents a myriad of companies and industries in complex and difficult matters, and has achieved successful results through motions, settlement, trial and appeal. While her matters may vary widely in size and scope, she develops a tailored and efficient legal strategy for each matter to meet her clients’ legal and business objectives.

As Chair of Connell Foley’s ERISA and Benefit Plan Litigation Group, Patti devotes a substantial portion of her work to defending lawsuits that seek benefits under health plans, or that assert claims for statutory penalties or injunctive and declaratory relief. She has defended numerous claims brought against managed care companies and self-funded health benefit plans for relief under common law and statutes such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state and federal RICO, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the New Jersey Health Claims Authorization, Processing and Payment Act (HCAPPA), and other federal and state health insurance and information technology laws. She has also prosecuted affirmative claims for health care fraud and secured significant overpayment recoveries under the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) and common law.

In addition, Patti has defended class actions on behalf of clients in the managed care, construction, insurance, utility, food and beverage, and other retail industries. Her work has contributed to the dismissal of claims and/or denial of class certification in putative class actions brought under ERISA, state and federal RICO and antitrust laws, New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), Truth-in-Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Patti has frequently served as local counsel in class action matters in the Federal District Courts for New Jersey and New York, working collaboratively with her co-counsel to achieve optimal results for their clients. In the construction space, Patti has represented clients in complex construction litigations arising out of delay and defective workmanship claims, lien claims, architectural and engineering liability, fraud claims and builder’s risk insurance coverage disputes, as well as on transactional agreements for new construction projects.

Patti also serves as Co-Chair of Connell Foley’s Women’s Initiative, and previously chaired the firm’s Hiring Committee.

Experience

Representative Experience

Healthcare/ERISA

  • Obtained a voluntary dismissal for an insurer -- prediscovery and pending ruling on a motion to dismiss -- of a putative class action seeking coverage for medical tattooing under the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998
  • Defended against a subscriber-brought putative class action challenging coverage policies for eating disorder treatments brought under ERISA and state parity laws, resulting in a favorable and groundbreaking settlement for a limited class of New Jersey insureds
  • Prosecuted an overpayment recovery from providers that received double payments both from the insurer and from a hospital system with capitated rates for anesthesiology services
  • Defended a provider pain specialist’s request for payments under a network agreement and pursued overpayment counterclaims based upon overbilling, overutilization, unbundling and upcoding
  • Succeeded in opposing an order to show cause for emergent nursing care coverage
  • Prosecuted a claim for emergent relief against an ambulance transportation provider seeking to enjoin balance billing following a defective termination of a network services agreement, resulting in a favorable settlement
  • Part of defense team for national putative class actions brought by individual health care providers and chiropractic associations asserting challenges to health insurance company overpayment recovery procedures; pursuit of counterclaims to recover overpayments from certain plaintiff providers investigated by the insurer’s Special Investigations Unit. Many of plaintiffs’ claims, including all RICO claims and the individual claims of several providers, were successfully dismissed by way of initial motions
  • Part of defense team for a national, multi-district putative class action brought by subscribers, providers, and medical associations alleging ERISA, RICO and Sherman Act violations relating to the use of industry databases to determine usual and customary rates for out-of-network services. Majority of the claims were dismissed, including RICO and antitrust
  • Obtained dismissal of an associational action seeking to enjoin the inclusion of provisions in network agreements setting maximum fees to be charged for services that, because of deductibles, frequency limitations, benefit maximums and plan exclusions, do not result in a payment from the insurer. Dismissal was granted based upon defense motions; dismissal upheld on appeal
  • Defended a health care provider in an unfair competition action alleging violations of health care regulations and interference with a restrictive covenant agreement
  • Prevailed in regulatory appeals relating to the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program Act, serving as amicus for interested insurance company
  • Defended a wrongful death action brought against numerous health care providers, pharmacies and hospitals relating to overutilization of prescription medications

Construction

  • Represented a large shopping center developer in a substantial multi-party dispute involving defective workmanship, professional negligence, insurance coverage and delay claims; won dismissal of contractor’s fraud claim and contract defenses re: alleged failure of developer to disclose groundwater and soil conditions and developer’s claim under the Consumer Fraud Act against contractor for substitution of inferior materials
  • Defended a wind engineering company in a property damage action involving a snow and ice study performed for a new building at Baruch College in New York City
  • Represented a horizontal directional drilling contractor in a substantial multi-party arbitration action involving affirmative delay and change order damages as well as defective workmanship claims
  • Represented a retail shopping chain in an order to show cause seeking emergent C.O. approval, as well as in resolving outstanding construction disputes and bonding issues
  • Represented a real estate owner-developer in negotiation of construction access agreements
  • Represented a real estate owner-developer on an order to show cause to allocate funds to lienholders
  • Represented a real estate owner-developer in a partnership dispute involving breach and fraud claims against a construction contractor-partner; prevailed in an appeal of an order compelling the parties to arbitrate and won remand of the matter for full discovery on the breach and fraud claim
  • Defended an engineering firm in two complex professional malpractice actions arising from the design and construction of a major wastewater treatment facility
  • Defended substantial personal injury litigations involving alleged architectural and engineering errors in major New Jersey construction projects, including the Tropicana parking garage collapse

Other Complex Litigation Results

  • Secured orders of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania granting cut-through to reinsurance policies for two airlines insured by the bankrupt Legion Insurance Company
  • Won acquittal after a jury trial on air piracy criminal charges arising from allegations that the defendant had released stink bombs on two overseas TWA flights within days of one another (United States v. Botnick, E.D.N.Y.)
  • Tried to verdict a white collar criminal defense matter based upon allegations of mail and wire fraud through a mortgage refinancing scheme; bail pending appeal to the Third Circuit granted (United States v. Ragbir, D.N.J.)
  • Secured dismissal of all claims against an engineering company acting in its capacity as municipal zoning officer, including §1983 claims
  • Handled a white-collar criminal jury trial involving allegations that the defendant, a former political figure, committed fraud against his hospital system employer (United States v. Botnick, D.N.J.)
  • Prosecuted claims of a property owner alleging constitutional due process and equal protection violations caused by a blight designation
  • Won acquittal after a bench trial on several counts of sexual misconduct brought against an educator in a multi-complainant case
  • Successfully defended a contamination action against an oil tank removal contractor by establishing commingled contamination sources, false damages, and net expert opinions

Decisions

  • 167 A.D.3d 461 (S.Ct. N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t, Dec. 11, 2018)
  • 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199431 (D.N.J. Nov. 26, 2018)
  • 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111130 (D.N.J. June 30, 2018)
  • 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84600 (D.N.J. June 30, 2015)
  • 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72927 (D.N.J. May 22, 2013)
  • 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25743 (Feb. 25, 2013)
  • 424 N.J. Super. 160 (App. Div. Feb. 15, 2012), cert. denied 210 N.J. 261 (S.Ct. May 21, 2012)
  • 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133924 (D.N.J. Sept. 19, 2012)
  • 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64413 (D.N.J. May 8, 2012)
  • 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67718 (D.N.J. June 17, 2011)
  • 2009 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 907 (App. Div. Apr. 3, 2009)
  • 536 F. Supp. 2d 523 (D.N.J. Feb. 25, 2008)
  • 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74361 (M.D. Pa. Oct.4, 2007)
  • 191 N.J. 59 (S.Ct. May 21, 2007)
  • 2007 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 513 (App. Div. Aug. 28, 2007)

Activities

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Member, Connell Foley Executive Committee
  • Co-Chair, Connell Foley Women’s Initiative
  • Former Co-Chair, Connell Foley Hiring Committee
  • Former Co-Chair, Connell Foley Diversity Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association
    • ABA Litigation Section
  • Member, New Jersey State Bar Association
    • NJSBA Class Action Subcommittee
  • Member, Essex County Bar Association
  • Member, Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey
  • Member, New Jersey Women Lawyers Association
  • Member, USLAW, Construction Practice Group
  • Participant, IADC Trial Academy (2007)
  • Certified Mediator, State of New Jersey

News & Insights

Speaking Engagements

Honors

"Best 50 Women in Business," NJBIZ (2018)

New Jersey Super Lawyers
 (2013, 2018, 2019)

"New Leaders of the Bar," New Jersey Law Journal (2012)

Clerkships

  • Honorable R. Benjamin Cohen, Chancery Division−General Equity Part, New Jersey Superior Court, Essex County

Education

American University - Washington College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 1998)

Rider University (B.A., Political Science and English Literature, summa cum laude, 1995)

Admissions

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