San Diego Managing Partner
Charles Field is Managing Partner of the San Diego office of Sanford Heisler Sharp and Chair of the firm’s Financial Services Practice Group.
Since joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Charles has been recognized in the legal community as a Super Lawyers-San Diego Honoree (2023), National Law Journal Employment Trailblazer (2021), and was part of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyer list (2021).
Charles has been co-lead and interim co-lead counsel in numerous ERISA class action cases, including Snyder v. UnitedHealth Group; Brown-Davis, et al. v. Walgreen Co.; In re GE ERISA Litigation; Karg v. Transamerica; and Daly v. West Monroe Partners.
At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Charles’s representations have included:
- Litigating against several Fortune 500 companies for claims of mismanaging their employees’ 401(k) retirement plans, resulting in multi-million-dollar settlements in:
- Brown-Davis, et al. v. Walgreen Co. ($13.75 million)
- Karg v. Transamerica ($5.4 million)
- Price v. Eaton Vance Corp. ($3.45 million)
- Litigating ERISA class claims against Home Depot, General Electric, Milliman, and Allstate for mismanaging 401k plans
- Representing elderly and high-net worth individuals in their claims of financial abuse and fraud against investment firms, promoters and brokers, including winning a $2.1 million award for an investor against Madison Avenue Securities
Charles received his law degree from McGeorge Law School, a degree in European Legal Studies from The University of Edinburgh and The University of Salzburg, and his undergraduate degree from Indiana University-Indianapolis.
A member of the California bar, Charles has been interviewed by CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Law360, and several trade publications dealing with ERISA and investment issues.
Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Charles served as the general counsel of an institutional money management firm that furnished investment management services to ERISA retirement plans, cities and towns, endowments, and investment companies. During his 17-year tenure, he oversaw compliance with ERISA, as well as federal and state securities laws, including the federal fiduciary duty standards embodied in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. He served on the firm’s various investment and investment performance committees, and securities valuation committees, as well as on the boards of directors of various investment funds that invested billions of dollars in the global securities markets. As an investments industry lawyer, Charles constructed hundreds of investment funds that are the very type at issue in the cases Sanford Heisler Sharp litigates and was responsible for overseeing the funds’ compliance with U.S. securities laws and, in some cases, the law of the jurisdiction of organization (e.g. Mauritius, Ireland, Cayman Islands).
When not lawyering, Charles enjoys traveling and living an active life in sunny San Diego.
- J.D., McGeorge Law School
- B.A., Indiana University-Indianapolis
- European Legal Studies, The University of Edinburgh and The University of Salzburg
- California, 1997
- The 2023 Lawdragon 500 Leading Civil Rights & Plaintiff Employment Lawyers
- 2021-22 Lawdragon 500 Plaintiff Employment Lawyer
- 2021 National Law Journal Employment Trailblazer
Highly effective representation in advancing financial mismanagement litigation.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation [for] Charles Field’s highly effective representation in advancing the financial mismanagement litigation that I sought to undertake last summer. At that time I wrote an essay to your firm, describing my retirement fund manager’s chronic underperformance vs. market benchmarks, which then culminated in an abominable series of executive decisions surrounding the 2020 COVID Crash.
I felt that I had been exploited for their management fees, and taken advantage of as a result of their negligence. By the summer, I decided I had nothing to lose by submitting the information to Sanford Heisler for review. I am grateful that it soon made its way across the country to Mr. Field. From our earliest discussions, I could tell that Charles Field understood the gravity of the mistreatment I suffered, and that he was empathetic towards my plight. I got the sense that Mr. Field would leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the case.
Charles Field’s analysis of the materials I submitted showed me that is exactly what he did. Sanford Heisler Sharp drilled down on everything and identified several unethical practices, such as investing in vehicles that featured poor performance records, yet maximized management fees. In calling out the unscrupulous behaviors and general incompetence, Mr. Field cited FINRA and finance industry standards. When I read his final brief, I knew that my interests had received the best advocacy possible.
Going forward, I feel confident that Mr. Field and the Sanford Heisler Sharp team have given me the best shot at a successful result in litigation.
— Thomas G. Bering, MD
Efficiency and Teamwork
Charles Field and Sanford Heisler have been excellent partners as our business has grown. They understand our firm and have helped us navigate the legal landscape in our industry. Charles is particularly responsive when we need him and is willing to bring in other resources to address our issues. Because of their efficiency and teamwork, we feel Sanford Heisler offers great value and service.
— Horacio Valeiras, CEO, Frontier Global Partners, LLC
Mr. Charles Field, Esquire was very professional, courteous and polite in helping me research an equities matter. He contacted me timely with the results of an equity public filing review, and I was thoroughly impressed by everyone I interacted with at Sanford Heisler Sharp.
— Canning Kraft
They were all friendly, knowledgeable and I always felt like they had my back.
Working with this firm was a very positive experience for me, personally. Particularly, the support from Katie, Shaun and Charles from the first filing thru depositions to settlement. If I had any questions they were answered promptly. They were all friendly, knowledgeable and I always felt like they had my back. Highly recommended.
— Former Client
On July 12, 2023, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter and Elon Musk for failing to provide promised severance benefits owed to terminated employees, and for failing to communicate accurately and truthfully with employees about the severance plan benefits, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
This class action accuses the fiduciaries of UnitedHealth’s 401(k) plan of violating their fiduciary duties under ERISA by keeping one of the worst-performing target date investment options in the entire market, the Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite, as the plan’s default investment for over a decade.
The Amended Complaint alleges that Milliman breached the duties of loyalty and prudence that it owed to its employees under ERISA by failing to remove a family of target risk funds – funds that Milliman itself managed – despite nearly a decade of abysmal underperformance. Milliman’s failure to remove its own funds from the Plan have cost employees as much as $50 million in retirement savings.
Sanford Heisler Sharp is currently evaluating whether Allstate mismanaged its 401(k) plan.
The complaint alleges Walgreens failed to remove from its employee retirement plan a suite of ten target retirement date funds that have underperformed their investment benchmarks.
Sanford Heisler Sharp alleged the company filled its 401(k) plan with expensive, poorly performing funds that earned fees for the company but deprived employees of millions of dollars in retirement savings.
The amended complaint alleges Mark Bernier trolled a dating website, exchanging over 29,000 messages with over 3,000 women in a two-year period, to lure unsuspecting women into investing their money in his fraudulent scheme.
The complaint alleges the company invests employees’ retirement savings in multiple funds that consistently underperform their investment benchmarks and other similar collective investment funds.
In the fight to protect investors from stockbroker misconduct, Sanford Heisler Sharp has obtained a $2.1 million FINRA arbitration award on behalf of a San Diego client whose investment nest egg was decimated by an imprudent, high-risk investment strategy that her stockbroker David Barber had recommended.
According to the complaint, Home Depot has selected multiple poorly-performing funds for its 401(k) plan, allowed investment advisers to charge its employees unreasonable fees, and turned a blind eye to a kickback scheme between an investment adviser and the plan’s recordkeeper.
The Complaint asserts that GE and the Plan violated the Federal Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) by breaching their fiduciary duties and engaging in prohibited transactions and unlawful self-dealing detrimental to the three named plaintiffs individually and as representatives of a class.
The claim alleges Madison Avenue Securities turned a blind eye in allowing one of its stockbrokers who had a disciplinary history of misappropriating clients’ funds to loot hundreds of thousands of dollars from client’s account.
- September Brings 5 Appellate Benefits Arguments to Watch, Law360, September 1, 2023
- GE Reaches Potential Settlement In Retirement Funds Fight, Law360, August 4, 2023
- ERISA Arbitrability Battles May Require High Court Guidance, Law360, July 21, 2023
- New lawsuit claims Elon Musk’s Twitter owes more severance to former employees, CNN, July 12, 2023
- Elon Musk, Twitter Slapped with $500 Million Lawsuit Over Ex-Employee Severance Payments, Variety, July 12, 2023
- Elon Musk accused of owing $500m in Twitter Severance, BBC, July 12, 2023
- Twitter and Elon Musk Face $500 Million Lawsuit For Allegedly Refusing Severance For Fired Employees, Forbes, July 12, 2023
- 5 ERISA Cases To Watch In 2023’s Second Half, Law360, June 30, 2023
- Ex-Consulting Co. Worker Wants Class Cert. in 401(k) Suit, Law360, June 9, 2023
- 3 May Argument Sessions Benefits Attorneys Should Watch, Law360, April 28, 2023
- 7th Circ. Northwestern Ruling Eases ERISA Pleading Standard, Law360, March 24, 2023
- DOL Court Loss Casts Shadow On Fiduciary Rulemaking, Law360, February 17, 2023
- Home Depot Workers Ask 11th Circ. To Revive 401(k) Suit, Law360, February 6, 2023
- UPDATE: Sanford Heisler Sharp Announces Four New Partners, Four Senior Litigation Counsel, Globe Newswire, February 03, 2023
- 10th Circ. To Mull Forced Arbitration Of ERISA Class Actions, Law360, January 13, 2023
- 5 ERISA Cases To Keep An Eye On In 2023, Law360, January 2, 2023
- Consulting Co. Can’t Shake Worker’s 401(k) Management Suit, Law360, December 14, 2022
- 7th Circ. Decision Narrows ERISA 401(k) Pleading Standard, Law360, September 2, 2022
- UnitedHealth CFO Named In Amended Class Action, CFO DIVE, Aug. 25, 2022
- UnitedHealth Kept Dud 401 (k) Suite For Wells Fargo, Suit Says, Law360, August 24, 2022
- 401(k) Revenue-Sharing In Focus After 6th Circ. ERISA Ruling, Law360, July 15, 2022
- Benefits Cases To Watch In The 2nd Half Of 2022, Law360, June 28, 2022
- ERISA Arbitration Likely Headed For High Court, Attys Say, Law360, May 6, 2022
- Bitcoin Is Coming To Your 401(K), Forbes Advisor, May 2, 2022
- UnitedHealth Faces Class of Thousands in Wells Fargo 401(k) Suit, Bloomberg Law, Feb. 3, 2022
- UnitedHealth Workers Win Class Cert. In ERISA Suit, Law360, February 3, 2022
- Chamber Backs Home Depot In Massive ERISA Class Action, Law360, December 20, 2021
- Massive Walgreens Worker Class Inks $13.75M 401(k) Deal, Law360, October 25, 2021
- Ex-Home Depot Staffers Ask for Early Judgment, Aug 3, 2021
- Home Depot, Workers Both Seek Early Win In 401(k) Class Suit, Law360, July 13, 2021
- Transamerica settles dispute over retirement plan for $5.4M, US News, June 24, 2021
- Transamerica Inks $5.4M Deal To Settle ERISA Class Action, Bloomberg Law, June 23, 2021
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Announces $5.4 Million Settlement with Transamerica in ERISA Class Action, Globe Newswire, June 23, 2021
- Allstate Says Employees In ERISA Suit ‘Lost Nothing’, Law360, June 10, 2021
- Interpreting Prudence and Loyalty Under ERISA, Plansponsor, April 9, 2021
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Files $70 Million ERISA Class Action Claim Against Allstate, January 5th, 2021
- Massive Home Depot 401(k) Class Action Gets Green Light, Law360, September 22, 2020
- 2020’s Biggest Benefits Regulations: Midyear Report, Law360, July 2, 2020
- 17,000-Member Class OK’d In Transamerica ERISA Suit, Law360, March 26, 2020
- ERISA Victory for Sanford Heisler Sharp at U.S. Supreme Court, February 26th, 2020
- High Court Could Limit ERISA Suits With US Bank Decision, Law360, January 10, 2020
- The Biggest ERISA Decisions Of 2019, Law360, December 20, 2019
- Walgreens Calls $300M Suit ‘Monday-Morning Quarterbacking’, Law360, Nov. 5, 2019
- Transamerica Can’t Use Settlement To Slip New 401(k) Suit, Law360, August 21, 2019
- Walgreen sued for $300 million in DC plan fiduciary breach, Pensions & Investments, August 09, 2019
- Fidelity hit with lawsuit over ‘pay to play’ in 401(k), City Wire(Pro Buyer), JUL 24, 2019
- Navigating The Mutual Fund Maze, Part 4: Evaluating Investment Performance
- Navigating The Mutual Fund Maze, Part 3: The Prospectus
- Navigating The Mutual Fund Maze, Part 2: Fees And Expenses
- Navigating The Mutual Fund Maze, Part 1: What Is a Mutual Fund?
- Working For Your 401(k) Rights
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- FINRA Arbitration Suffers Reputational Setback in Suit That Highlights Unfair Expungement System
- Pensions Score Wins Over Investment Advisers
- ESOP Abuses Can Cost You Plenty: Understanding Valuations of Employee-owned Stock
- Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Accused of Stock Dump, Trading on Insider Information
- 401(k) Participants Can Be Prime Targets of Cross-Selling Efforts
- Now is a Good Time to Judge Your Company’s Management of Its 401(k) Plan
- Kick-Backs Put Deutsche Bank in SEC’s Crosshairs
- It’s Great You Have a 401(k) – But Who’s Minding the Store?
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- 5th Circuit Kills DOL Fiduciary Duty Rule
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- SEC Proposes Regulation to Enhance Investor Protection
- Fraudulent Investment Schemes Continue to Plague Investors: Beware of the “Red Flags”
- FINRA Acts to Protect Senior Investors
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- California Financial Elder Abuse Statute – A Powerful Weapon for California’s Seniors
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