Mary J. Bortscheller is an Associate at Cohen Milstein, and a member of the Firm’s Employee Benefits Practice Group. In that role, Ms. Bortscheller represents the interests of employees, retirees, and plan participants and beneficiaries in ERISA cases in the district court and on appeal. Ms. Bortscheller is a strong, hands-on, strategic litigator, thoroughly versed in the complexities of ERISA law.

At present, Ms. Bortscheller is engaged in litigating a number of so-called “church plan” lawsuits. These cutting-edge legal cases assert that many non-profit health care systems in the United States wrongfully claim their benefit plans are exempt from ERISA regulation under the church plan exemption.  Currently, Cohen Milstein serves as lead or co-lead counsel in 12 separate cases in various jurisdictions throughout the U.S.

Ms. Bortscheller is currently litigating the following matters:

  • Trinity Health Corporation Church Plan Litigation: Cohen Milstein is co-lead counsel in Lann v. Trinity Health Corp., a lawsuit alleging that Trinity is violating numerous provisions of ERISA while wrongfully claiming that its defined benefit pension plan is exempt from ERISA because it is a church plan. Ms. Bortscheller is Lead Associate in the case, engaged in all aspects of the litigation including motions practice, discovery, the mediation process and finalizing the settlement. The case is ongoing.
  • Catholic Health East Church Plan Litigation: Cohen Milstein is co-counsel in Chavies v. Catholic Health East, alleging that the health care system wrongfully claims its defined benefit pension plan is exempt from ERISA as a church plan.  As the Lead Associate on this case, Ms. Bortscheller works on all aspects of the lawsuit, including fact and expert discovery, the mediation process and in finalizing the settlement. The case is ongoing.
  • U.S. Bancorp Pension Plan Litigation: Cohen Milstein is co-lead counsel to an interim class of pension plan participants alleging that the plan’s managers engaged in a risky, imprudent investment strategy by investing almost 100% of its assets in stocks, thus causing the plan to lose more than $1 billion during the collapse of the equities market in 2008. As Lead Associate on the case, Ms. Bortscheller is involved in all aspects of the litigation, including the initial case investigation and drafting of the complaint, motions practice, discovery and the appellate process.  The case is ongoing.

In addition to her ERISA case work, Ms. Bortscheller represents, pro bono, unaccompanied minor clients in immigration proceedings. Prior to joining Cohen Milstein in 2013, Ms. Bortscheller practiced at a boutique commercial litigation firm based in Chicago, where she represented plaintiffs in antitrust and qui tam matters, as well as defendants in general commercial litigation. 

Ms. Bortscheller graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A., cum laude, in Political Science, and received her J.D., cum laude, from American University, Washington College of Law.  During law school, she served as Features Editor and Senior Editor of Sustainable Development Law & Policy and was a staff member of the American University International Law Review.  Ms. Bortscheller served as a judicial intern with the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Before attending law school, Ms. Bortscheller served in the United States Peace Corps teaching English as a foreign language in Sichuan Province, China. Following law school, she was a volunteer for the Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc.'s Foreclosure Defense Project. 

  • Intern, U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota