Quitman Stephens (“Q”) is a partner in the Firm’s Dallas office. Q’s practice focuses on employee benefits, executive compensation, health care and the recently-enacted “health care reform” law, the “Affordable Care Act” ("ACA”). In addition to playing a leading role within the Firm’s ERISA group, Q serves as national director of the Firm’s practice on the ACA.
ERISA. Q’s practice focuses on all aspects of qualified and nonqualified employee benefit plans and arrangements, and matters arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (the “ERISA”), and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), including formation, operation, planning, and compliance issues with respect to such arrangements, all varieties of corrections for plan instrument or operational failures with respect to any such plans, including, where applicable, corrections in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service’s Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System (the “EPCRS”), and where applicable, for breaches of fiduciary duty or prohibited transaction issues through the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (the “VFCP”).
Q is experienced in all manner of employee benefit plan issues arising in merger-and-acquisition contexts, and served, for example, as ERISA/employee benefits counsel to the Readers Digest Association in its $2.4 billion sale to Ripplewood Holdings, and as ERISA/employee benefits counsel to Toni & Guy in conjunction with the $400 million sale of its haircare-products business to Unilever. Q also served as ERISA counsel to Pfizer throughout the Solutia bankruptcy, advising on all manner of employee benefit plan-related issues, and resolution thereof, in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.
Q is also fluent in “plan assets” issues arising under ERISA, including prohibited transaction and fiduciary duty-related issues, and regularly advises clients on such issues. During his career, he has advised on the formation and operation of over 40 private equity funds in compliance with the Department of Labor’s plan assets regulations, including for clients such as CB Richard Ellis, Highcross Funds, LaSalle Real Estate Funds, Market Street Capital Partners Funds, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds, and the Orion Funds, with much of that work involving significant, international, investment projects, requiring coordination with lawyers and other professionals in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, and China.
Additionally, Q regularly advises clients on ERISA litigation-related matters, and has counseled clients on such issues in many complex, multi-million-dollar ERISA and employee-benefit-plan-related litigation matters, including controversies involving defined benefit plans (including several in a union context), retiree-medical obligations, and nonqualified plan disputes.
During his twelve-plus years of practice, Q has also opined upon issues arising in conjunction with employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”), particularly in an ERISA M&A context. ESOPs are a special form of plan subject to ERISA and the Code, which, under specific provisions in those two statutes, are exempt from the “prohibited transaction” regimes in both laws for certain transactions between a plan and a “party in interest” to the plan, specifically including loans between a plan and a plan sponsor, loans guaranteed by a plan sponsor, and the purchase of stock by the plan from the employer/plan sponsor. But, as with all aspects of ERISA, compliance with those exceptions requires careful calibration and precision. A failure can be fatal for a transaction. See, e.g., Neil v. Zell, 753 F.Supp.2d 724 (N.D. Ill. 2010), http://www.tribunesettlement.com/docs/Summary_Judgment_Order-Unregistered_Stock_Prohibited_Transaction.pdf
HEALTH CARE & ACA. As national director of the Firm’s ACA practice, Q regularly counsels businesses on strategy in conjunction with the implementation of health care reform, and is fluent in all aspects of the ACA – including the applicable, rapidly-expanding, regulatory authority thereunder. His practice also regularly includes advising businesses on general compliance issues arising under the ACA, as well as compliance issues under the Stark Laws and the federal “Anti-Kickback” Statute.
Q is also a passionate advocate for wellness and physical fitness, and regularly oversees compliance for employers with respect to the design and implementation of workplace “wellness” programs and arrangements.
BACKGROUND. Prior to joining Gordon & Rees, Q practiced law as a partner at Cantey Hanger, and previous to that, at Jones Day. Q began his career working in tax controversy matters, including federal, state, and local tax matters, and international tax issues involving the Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).
Q is also an avid fan of -- and the Firmwide expert on -- the Beatles, and is closely associated with the local, Dallas-based, Beatles cover band, Hard Nights Day. See http://www.hardnightsday.com/
Q is fluent in French.
American Bar Association, Taxation Section
Dallas Bar Association, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Section; Taxation Section
Q serves as Lead Judge for The Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee, which is broadcast live on a Saturday morning each spring by the local ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV/Channel 8. As a teenager, he won the Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee in both 1984 and 1985, and placed ninth in the 1985 National Spelling Bee.
In the Media
"Wellness, Prevention Critical to Cost Containment" Ft. Worth Business Press, October 26, 2012
"Consumers will love healthcare overhaul, Dallas lawyer predicts" Star-Telegram, October 17, 2012
"UPDATE: Area leaders react to Supreme Court Ruling," Ft. Worth Business Press, June 28, 2012
"Attorney expects health care law to be upheld," Star-Telegram, November 6, 2011
"Fort Worth Attorney Says Don't Wait for Health Care Law," CBS-DFW, November 6, 2011