Matthew T. Heffner - Partner

Phone: 312 346-3466   Email:

Over the last two decades, Mr. Heffner has recovered hundreds-of-millions of dollars while serving as lead or co-lead counsel in a wide array of precedent-setting class actions and complex cases. Often, his advocacy has changed the law—in matters ranging from corporate governance to ERISA to constitutional rights. Over his career, Mr. Heffner has been recognized by courts and his peers alike as a leader in the legal profession—receiving an AV Preeminent ranking from his peers through Martindale-Hubbell and the 2012 Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service by the federal court of the Northern District of Illinois.

A representative sample of his cases include:

Young v. Verizon’s Bell Atlantic Cash Balance Plan (No. 05 C 7314)(N.D.IL.):
Mr. Heffner served as lead counsel in this precedential ERISA action. Representing over 13,000 former Bell Atlantic employees with claims of over $1 billion, Mr. Heffner and his team succeeded in overturning the plan administrator’s decision as arbitrary and capricious. As a result, the Plan filed the first claim for equitable reformation of an ERISA plan in the Seventh Circuit. While reformation was granted, Mr. Heffner succeeded in limiting the power of plan administrators to unilaterally change clear plan terms and set standards for equitable reformation under ERISA that were eventually adopted by the Supreme Court in Cigna v. Amara, 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011). Furthermore, Young broke new ground on the standards regarding attorney’s fees under ERISA.

Mr. Heffner’s efforts were extensively covered by the legal media, including the American Lawyer, Employee Relations Law Journal,, and the ABA Journal, not to mention the popular press.

The reported decisions are: 615 F.3d 808, 815 (7th Cir. 2010); 498 F. Supp. 2d 1101(N.D. Ill. 2007); 2007 WL 4277438(N.D.Ill., Dec. 03, 2007); 575 F.Supp.2d 892 (N.D.Ill., Aug. 28, 2008); 667 F. Supp. 2d 850 (N.D. Ill. 2009); 748 F.Supp.2d 903 (N.D.Ill., Oct. 20, 2010); 783 F.Supp.2d 1031 (N.D.Ill., Apr. 27, 2011).

Banks v. Elgin Mental Health Center (No. 07-cv-5654)(N.D.IL.):
Mr. Heffner secured a summary judgment upholding the constitutional rights of mental-health patients at the Elgin Mental Health Center in 2011. The Honorable Robert M. Dow of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois appointed Mr. Heffner to represent certain Muslim patients within the Illinois mental-health system. Mr. Heffner’s efforts resulted in a summary judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor and a favorable settlement and institutional changes to protect Muslim mental-health patients’ right to attend weekly religious services throughout Illinois. The reported decision regarding liability is Banks v. Almazar, 2011 WL 1231142 (N.D.Ill., Mar. 30, 2011).

Miller v. Dyadic (No. 07-80948-CIV)(S.D.FL.):
Mr. Heffner served as lead counsel in this securities class action alleging fraud on the behalf of an Asian subsidiary of a United States biotechnology firm. After threats of bankruptcy and a lack of insurance coverage, Mr. Heffner secured a settlement of $4.5 million, over a third of the company’s overall market capitalization at the time.

In re American Home Mortgage Securities Litigation (07-MD-1898)(E.D.N.Y.):
Mr. Heffner served as plaintiffs’ counsel in one of the first securities-fraud actions arising out of the subprime mortgage lending problems of the late 2000’s. Mr. Heffner was the first to name and successfully recover funds from underwriters and accountants regarding their involvement in the subprime crisis.

In re: PNB Holding Co. Shareholder Litigation, Del. Ch., No. 028-N (V.C. Strine):
Mr. Heffner served as lead trial counsel in this precedent-setting action concerning the treatment of S-Corporation conversions. Plaintiffs convinced the Court that an S-Corporation conversion should be viewed as a squeeze-out of minority shareholders, requiring the application of the entire-fairness doctrine. The Delaware Chancery Court awarded $1.22 million to the Plaintiffs as a result, basing its decision in large part on the Plaintiffs’ valuation of the stock. The reported decision is In re PNB Holding Co. Shareholders Litig., CIV.A. 28-N, 2006 WL 2403999 (Del. Ch. Aug. 18, 2006).

In re: Bank One Securities Litigation/First Chicago Shareholders Claims, N.D. Ill., No. 00 C 767 (J. Andersen):
At the time, this was the largest known securities fraud settlement ($120 million) in the Seventh Circuit absent a financial restatement or SEC investigation. Mr. Heffner’s firm acted as lead counsel and Mr. Heffner served as designated Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel by the Court for his firm and three other related class actions.

Dooley, et al. v. Saxton, et al. (No. 12-1207) (D. Or.):
Mr. Heffner served as co-lead counsel in this ERISA action that successfully recovered $15.5 million for a closely-held company ESOP. The suit alleged that the Plan cutback benefits by switching investment options after certain participants retired, that the fiduciaries had mismanaged the investments for years given the plan’s novel structure, and that the fiduciaries had overvalued Jeld-Wen stock during a conversion of participant’s assets to stock.

Calvin et al. v. the American Basketball Association Players’ Retirement Plan, et al. (No. 5:14-cv-667)(W.D.TX):
Mr. Heffner served as co-lead counsel in this ERISA action on behalf of all participants who had played in the former American Basketball Association. The ABA players claimed the Plan had failed to provide required notifications and information—including annual funding notices and summary plan descriptions—and had routinely miscalculated or failed to pay benefits. Heffner Hurst and their co-counsel secured a $1.5 million settlement that also required the documents be provided in the future.

Mr. Heffner's expertise has been displayed in various media sources and CLE programs. And the press, such as the ABA Litigation news, seeks out his perspective on class actions and legal developments for news stories and legal articles. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Rule 23 Subcommittee for the ABA's Class Action and Derivative Suit division. He has also been admitted to the Federal Trial Bar and is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association.

Mr. Heffner is a member of good standing in the following jurisdictions:

  • Illinois
  • Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Mr. Heffner attended Indiana University as a National Merit Scholar and Arthur R. Metz Scholar. Concentrating on philosophy, physics, and mathematics, he graduated with honors in 1994. Mr. Heffner then earned his J.D. in 1997 from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was awarded the Charles and Elizabeth Tigar Endowed Presidential Scholarship.