Pete engages in a broad civil litigation practice, ranging from trade secret/unfair competition issues to defense of hospitals and health care professionals in professional liability claims. Pete also represents pharmaceutical and other product liability claims and has handled employee benefit and ERISA litigation. He has represented insurers and carriers in first-party claims and complex coverage matters, and has experience in class action litigation matters. He practices in both state and federal courts in the region, often serving as local counsel. He serves as the firm's Managing Partner.
Following college, Pete served five years active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, deployed from the Central Pacific to the Bering Sea as a deck watch officer aboard the cutter Morgenthau, and later in a procurement position in Washington, DC. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Toledo Law Review while in law school, and has been with RCO Law since 1994.
University of Toledo College of Law, J.D., 1994
United States Coast Guard Academy, B.S., 1986
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The Supreme Court of the United States
Rotary Club of Toledo
Past involvement includes:
American Bar Association
Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys
Ohio State Bar Association
Toledo Bar Association
Society of Ohio Healthcare Attorneys
Federal Bar Association
United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Federal Advisory Committee
Defense Research Institute
Best Lawyers in America (2021)
Employee Benefit Litigation
Two physicians lost substantial retirement savings in a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by their financial advisor. With the advisor imprisoned on fraud charges and his company insolvent, the physicians sued the pension plan trustee – our client – as the sole remaining deep pocket, alleging breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA.
We ascertained that the retirement accounts were individually-directed, affording plan participants almost limitless investment options. Investments were made via directive forms which expressly disclaimed the trustee’s liability for the transaction. Each plan participant received monthly statements listing their transactions and assets, and warning that certain assets were valued at cost, and not at market value. The doctors blindly deferred to their advisor on investment recommendations, even signing blank investment directives in advance. Eventually federal authorities discovered the fraud, and the majority of assets in their accounts were exposed as worthless.
We successfully defended the trustee under a safe harbor provision of ERISA which bars claims by investors who exercise independent control over their accounts, rather than opting from assets selected by the trustee. The claimants had asserted that the trustee concealed material non-public facts regarding the advisor’s fraud, since the trustee had previously sued the advisor on behalf of other investors, purportedly depriving them of the “control” required to satisfy the safe harbor. The district court disagreed. Because the prior suits were public record, there was no concealment. The summary judgment ruling was one of the first to test the safe harbor shelter from liability for ERISA trustees in plans permitting self-directed accounts.
I moved to the Toledo area in 1991 for law school, with no familial or other connection, and no intention of staying around. Over twenty years later, I’m privileged to call this area home. My wife and I reside in Sylvania, chasing after our three children. I enjoy preparing, and eating, barbeque and other grilled foods. I also enjoy running and hiking.
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