James A. Keller

Jim Keller is the co-chair of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s Higher Education Practice, vice-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, and a member of Executive Committee. He is a higher education lawyer, an ERISA litigator, and a complex commercial dispute trial lawyer. 

In addition to his legal practice, Jim has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware, where he taught undergraduate law courses. 

Experience

Higher Education /General Counsel

Jim defends  colleges and universities and  advises them on critical issues of compliance, policy, and liability. Jim has led teams in both proactive and reactive internal investigations across a wide swath of higher education compliance and risk management issues, including compliance with the Clery Act, Title IX, student deaths, hazing, sexual assault, and alcohol abuse and use on campus. Jim has also provided Title IX training and presentations across the country, and is actively defending civil actions that include Title IX claims. Jim also serves as general counsel to several colleges and universities that do not have inside counsel.

Complex Commercial Litigation

Jim handles complex commercial litigation matters for clients in the real estate, insurance, and defense industries. He has experience leading teams in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, as well as in AAA arbitration. Jim also has handled many appellate arguments before the Third Circuit, all appellate courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and he is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

As just a few examples:

  • Summary Judgment on Tortious Interference With Contract Claim: Summary judgment affirmed in favor of client defending alleged multi-million dollar tortious interference with contract claim, Warfield v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, 6 A. 3d 558 (Pa. Super. 2010)
  • Dismissal of Bad Faith Claim: Obtained dismissal of bad faith claim against insurer, El Bor Corp. v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., 787 F. Supp. 2d 341 (E.D. Pa. 2011)
  • Dismissal of RICO and Lanham Act Claims: Lead defense counsel in obtaining dismissal of RICO and Lanham Act claims, Mega Concrete v. Smith, 2011 WL 1103831 (E.D. Pa. 2011)
  • Lead Trial Counsel for Shareholder Litigation: Lead counsel for shareholders in case seeking release of funds from escrow post-closing, Fesnak and Associates v. U.S. Bank, 722 F. Supp. 2d 496 (D. Del. 2010) 

ERISA and Insurance Litigation

Jim is lead counsel in ERISA litigation matters filed throughout the East Coast. Jim has particular experience with group benefit plans involving AD&D insurance, disability insurance, and life insurance, and with individual health coverage litigation. Jim is willing to take these cases to trial, when needed.  For example:

  • ERISA Trial Win: Secured judgment for insurer after bench trial and motion for judgment on partial findings in an ERISA benefits action, Bair v. Life Insurance Co. of North America, 2011 WL 4860006 (E.D. Pa. 2011)

Compliance and Investigation Experience

Clery Act

  • Jim has been lead counsel in handling Clery Act compliance issues for a variety of higher education institutions. Jim has reviewed Annual Security Reports, advised on regulatory interpretation questions, and coordinated responses to major program reviews instituted by the Department of Education. Jim has a team of as many as 35 lawyers to assist with these projects. Given the sensitivity of these matters, client names can be provided upon request, with client consent.

Title IX and VAWA

  • Jim has been lead counsel on many lawsuits where a party is claiming a violation of Title IX. Jim has also provided training more than 35 times on Title IX and VAWA compliance, revised dozens of policies, and assists clients with Title IX and VAWA issues weekly. Jim has assisted and is assisting multiple institutions in handling, and responding to, reviews initiated by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. These have ranged from single-issue complaints involving a single party, to extensive compliance reviews involving many campuses in a large university system. Given the sensitivity of these matters, client names can be provided upon request, with client consent.

College and University Student Risk Issues

  • Jim has been counsel in matters involving student death, alcohol abuse, hazing, or assault. Jim has provided advice across the spectrum in these matters, ranging from an internal investigation, to policy work, to defending a civil action when filed. Given the sensitivity of these matters, client names can be provided upon request, with client consent.

Sexual Assault and Abuse

  • Jim has been counsel in dozens of cases of alleged sexual assault or abuse involving an educational institution, whether K-12 or a college or university. Jim has also provided training on best practices for preventing and handling these matters, and helps to structure pertinent policies for educational institutions. Given the sensitivity of these matters, client names can be provided upon request, with client consent.

Hazing

  • Jim has assisted with investigating and litigating matters involving athletic, greek life, and other hazing issues at both the university and the K-12 level.

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