Thomas M. Christina - Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Thomas M. Christina

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2003

Employee Benefits Practice

Tom Christina counsels clients on plan design, regulatory, operational, and compliance issues relating to employee benefit plans of all kinds, including defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans with benefit structures tailored to individual client needs.  In addition, he advises employers regarding the employee benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and corporate reorganizations.  Mr. Christina also represents employers and plan administrators in benefits-related controversies, including disputes with multiemployer pension plans involving assessments of “withdrawal liability” under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980.Since 2010, Mr. Christina has counseled employers and industry groups on regulatory and compliance issues under the Affordable Care Act.  He speaks and writes frequently on specific aspects of agency guidance under the Act, such as grandfathered health plan status, implementation of mandated coverage terms, and planning for employer mandates that become applicable in 2014.

Appellate Litigation & Government Affairs

Mr. Christina has represented clients in appellate matters for more than 25 years, in cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court, spanning a wide range of legal issues.  Most recently, he submitted an amicus brief to the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce in Florida v. HHS, urging the court to rule that the Affordable Care Act is invalid.  In the Supreme Court, Mr. Christina wrote an amicus brief supporting the petitioners on Severability, which was filed on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Thomas P. Miller of AEI, and nine other healthcare finance experts.  He also was of counsel on an amicus brief supporting the States on the Medicaid Expansion question in that case, which was submitted on behalf of more than 50 members of the Indiana legislature and the James Madison Institute.Mr. Christina also is a member of the Firm’s Government Affairs practice.  He represented the interests of small and independent business during the legislative process leading up to the adoption of the Affordable Care Act.  He advises business groups that submit comments on proposed regulations under the ACA, seeking to curb some of the regulatory excesses of the agencies with rule-making authority under the Act.  In addition, he has written and spoken on strategies for employer groups to protect their interests in the face of regulatory over-reaching by the National Labor Relations Board.During the Reagan Administration, Mr. Christina served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and later as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, in the U.S. Department of Justice.  He writes and speaks frequently on regulatory, legislative, and Constitutional issues affecting the employer community, and has been quoted in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Investors Business Daily. 

Cornell UniversityAB 1977Harvard University Law SchoolJ.D. 1980
Southern Employee Benefits ConferenceU.S. Chamber of Commerce Competitive Enterprise Institute

Case History

Other Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh and District of Columbia Circuits
  • Tax Court of the United States
Mr. Christina has assisted clients in a variety of industries with such employee benefits matters as:
  • Resolving qualified plan compliance issues with the Internal Revenue Service
  • Plan mergers and spin-offs
  • Compliance with provisions of the Affordable Care Act
  • Resolving claims for withdrawal liabilities on behalf of employers participating in multiemployer pension plans
  • Advising clients regarding the employee benefits aspects of corporate acquisitions, divestitures, and reorganizations
  • Benefit plan design, with emphasis on strategies for compliance with coverage and non-discrimination requirements necessary to preserve tax-favored status


Mr. Christina has represented clients in appellate matters involving such issues as:
  • The validity of laws requiring employers to provide employee benefits that meet criteria set by states and municipalities
  • Whether the unconstitutionality of a portion of a statute requires or permits a court to declare that the entire statute is invalid
  • The illegality defense in breach of contract actions
  • Whether ERISA permits imposing liability in favor of a plaintiff who did not show that any harm resulted from distribution of a summary plan after the deadline for doing so.

Office Location

The Ogletree Building, Fifth Floor
300 North Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2017 Lawyer of the Year in Litigation - ERISA of the Greenville Metro Area2014 Lawyer of the Year in Litigation - ERISA of the Greenville Metro Area
Thomas M. Christina has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2017!Thomas M. Christina has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2014!

Practice Areas

Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (ERISA)
Employment Law - Management
Litigation - ERISA