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Dawn Murphy-Johnson is Counsel at Miller & Chevalier Chartered. She litigates complex legal issues arising under federal law with a focus on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), other federal employee benefits statutes such as the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and regulatory matters relating to health and pension benefits.

Ms. Murphy-Johnson regularly defends companies and plans in disputes concerning a broad range of ERISA matters, with a particular emphasis on fiduciary duties, benefits denials, and the applicability of ERISA to compensatory arrangements. She counsels clients on governmental enforcement priorities and ERISA's preemption of state law. She has also represented plan participants in claims against the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) concerning pension plan terminations.

Ms. Murphy-Johnson's experience extends to serving as counsel to numerous parties and amici at all stages of briefing before the U.S. Supreme Court and in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, including as second chair in oral argument before the Supreme Court. In the lower courts, she has represented clients in high-stakes, multi-year cases involving alleged violations of the civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and federal anti-terrorism laws, in commercial contract disputes, and in cases involving allegations of professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

Ms. Murphy-Johnson began her career in white collar criminal defense, defending individuals in cases involving tax and accounting fraud, public corruption, export control violations and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). She has also conducted internal investigations on behalf of multinational corporations.

Ms. Murphy-Johnson contributes substantial professional time to her active pro bono practice, most often focusing on post-conviction petitions to overturn wrongful convictions and appellate matters involving prisoner litigation.

 

Representative Engagements
  • Second-chaired oral argument before the United States Supreme Court in Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S. Ct. 627 (2016), a case involving statutory interpretation of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. 
  • Represent corporate client in federal litigation challenging state regulatory enforcement authority over ERISA-governed group health plan.
  • Represent corporate client in U.S. Department of Labor investigation involving obligations arising under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).
  • Second-chaired defense of client at trial in an ERISA case involving alleged violations of fiduciary duties.
Rankings and Recognition
  • Legal 500: Labor and Employment: ERISA Litigation, 2021
  • The Best Lawyers in America®: Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2021 - 2024
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers®: Super Lawyer, Civil Litigation: Defense; Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2016 - 2020
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers®: Rising Star, Civil Litigation: Defense; Criminal Defense: White Collar: Defense, 2014 - 2015
  • DC Bar Capital Pro Bono High Honor Roll, 2013 - 2020
Affiliations
  • Member, Women's Bar Association
  • Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Fellow, 2019
Admissions
State Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
Court Admissions
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland
News and Events
Publications
Internal Publication

The ERISA Edit: DOL Settles "Evidence of Insurability" Dispute with Unum

Internal Publication

The ERISA Edit: ERISA Preemption and APA Challenges in the News

Internal Publication

The ERISA Edit: Second APA Challenge to DOL's Fiduciary Rule Brought in Texas

Internal Publication

The ERISA Edit: Ninth Circuit Remands Pension Disclosure Claims, Again