Dyke Charles M

Charles M. Dyke

Charles (“Chuck”) Dyke leads the firm’s ERISA Litigation practice. His experience includes defending complex breach of fiduciary duty claims, litigating pension plan termination cases, and handling appellate matters. Chuck also has significant experience litigating other complex commercial cases. He has been recognized as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” each year since 2007 and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Chuck speaks and writes on ERISA litigation topics.

What do you focus on?

I defend sponsors and fiduciaries in ERISA litigation, evaluate and prosecute claims on behalf of fiduciaries and plans against service providers, evaluate and defend liability claims under complex legacy benefit programs, and litigate complex business cases.

I have handled or participated in ERISA and other appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.

For the first two years of my legal career, I worked as a staff attorney at the PBGC on the agency’s Early Warning Program legal team. Prior to joining Nixon Peabody, I was a partner with Thelen LLP.

Representative ERISA and other benefits litigation 

  • Sacerdote v. New York University School of Medicine, et al., No. 17-cv-8834 (S.D.N.Y.). Defend fiduciary advisor to retirement plan committee against fiduciary breach class claims.
  • Short v. Brown University, No. 17-CV-318 (D.R.I). Defended university against breach of fiduciary duty class action alleging excessive fees and imprudent investments in the university's 403(b) retirement plans. Obtained lowest settlement to date in university 403(b) cases.
  • Pharmacy Benefit Manager Litigation. Prosecute large breach-of-contract and fraud claims in arbitration on behalf of large welfare benefit plan against national pharmacy benefit manager.
  • ILWU-PMA Welfare Plan v. Ahmad, No. 19LBCV00187 (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represent large welfare plan in fraud action against physician and pharmacies over prescription compound drug fraud scheme.
  • ILWU-PMA Welfare Plan v. RxUnlimited, No. BC670620 (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represent large welfare plan in fraud action against pharmacy and physician over prescription compound drug fraud scheme.
  • Rollins v. Dignity Health et al. (N.D. Cal.). Defended Catholic-affiliated health care system against challenge to the “church plan” status of its large retirement plan and against related claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty, pension underfunding, and reporting and notice violations.
  • Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S.Ct. 2459. Counsel of record for amicus filing in Supreme Court on behalf of ESOP Association arguing in favor of a rule under which ERISA’s duty of investment prudence would not require ESOP fiduciaries to act in response to share-price fluctuations in publicly traded employer stock.
  • Golden Gate Restaurant Association v. City and County of San Francisco, 130 S.Ct. 3497. ERISA preemption challenge to San Francisco health care ordinance. Brought in as counsel of record for Golden Gate Restaurant Association during certiorari stage.
  • UNUM Life Ins. Co. v. Ward, 526 U.S. 328. Participated in certiorari and merits briefing.
  • Paulsen v. CNF, Inc., 559 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir.). Represented CNF in plan funding and Title IV issues in litigation over spin-off transaction.
  • United Steelworkers of America v. United Engineering, Inc., et al., 52 F.3d 1386 (6th Cir.). Wrote prevailing brief in Sixth Circuit.
  • Chao v. Malkani (4th Cir.). Obtained dismissal of appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
  • Aloha Airlines v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation et al. (Bankr. D. Haw. & D. Haw.) Successfully tried distress termination case in bankruptcy court for airline against PBGC and unions in connection with four underfunded defined benefit pension plans. Prevailed in district court when expedited appeal by PBGC was taken.
  • Perez v. GreatBanc Trust Co., Sierra Aluminum Co. et al. (C.D. Cal.). Represented valuation firm, ESOP sponsor, and selling shareholders in DOL litigation over ESOP valuation in stock purchase transaction; defeated DOL claim challenging indemnification agreement under ERISA § 410; successfully represented valuation firm against prohibited transaction charges during DOL investigation.
  • In re Heller Ehrman LLP (Bankr. N.D. Cal.). Represented law firm’s retirement plan and plan administrator against asserted claims by bankruptcy estate’s creditors that partners’ $12 million contribution to plan 10 months prior to bankruptcy petition constituted recoverable fraudulent conveyance. Persuaded claimants to formally abandon claims in bankruptcy court.
  • Evanson v. Price, (E.D. Cal.). Represented trustees of ESOP in substantial breach of fiduciary duty litigation under ERISA against ESOP’s previous trustees.
  • Lockyer v. PipeVine, Inc. (California Superior Court, County of San Francisco). Successfully represented receiver for defunct San Francisco charitable organization in pension funding matters against former parent entity and in termination liability and excise tax matters against PBGC and IRS.
  • Mentz v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., et al. (District Court of Texas, Harris County, 281st Judicial District). Represented Wells Fargo Bank against state law claims in series of cases over its service as directed trustee of an IRC § 419(f) plan that the IRS disqualified. Achieved highly favorable settlement after deposing plaintiffs.
  • Baackes v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (N.D.N.Y.). Defeated claims for misrepresentation and equitable estoppel, and obtained order requiring participant to repay $725,000 pension plan overpayment.

Representative Complex Litigation matters

  • Lee v. Hertz Corp. (San Francisco Superior Court). Defend Fair Credit Reporting Act class action.
  • Walker v. California Boiler, Inc. (Orange County Superior Court). Defend breach of contract claims relating to ESOP, and prosecute related breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract cross-claims.
  • Catlin Specialty Ins. Co. v. FMV Opinions, Inc. (Orange County Superior Court). Defended non-fiduciary appraiser of ESOP stock against claims for contribution and indemnity by breaching fiduciary’s subrogee.
  • District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570. Pro bono. Filed amicus brief on behalf of professors of linguistics addressing grammar and eighteenth-century usage of language of Second Amendment.
  • In re Reverse Mortgage Cases (California Superior Court, County of San Mateo). Successfully defended financial institution in three consolidated national class actions over former subsidiary’s reverse mortgage loans.
  • Pelowski v. Shell Internet Ventures, et al. (California Superior Court, County of San Mateo). Successfully defended venture capital fund in derivative action by disgruntled founders.


Charles M. Dyke

Leader, ERISA Litigation Practice

San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-8315

Fax: 844-540-4098

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M.

DePaul University College of Law, J.D., Managing Editor, DePaul Law Review

University of Maryland, B.S.



District of Columbia

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Charles was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 in the field of Litigation—ERISA. He was named the Best Lawyers® 2021 Litigation—ERISA “Lawyer of the Year” in San Francisco, CA. Charles has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2013.

Chuck has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by the Northern California Super Lawyer Magazine since 2007 in the area of commercial litigation.

  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • American Bankruptcy Institute Employee Benefits Committee (past co-chair)
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