For over twenty years, Joe Creitz has championed the underdog in conflicts involving employee benefits, insurance bad faith, and other complex employment issues. His integrity and skill as a litigator have guided countless clients to positive, practical, and cost-efficient results.
Joe’s early experiences working as a judicial extern in the chambers of federal district court judge Thelton Henderson ingrained an unwavering commitment to justice that has guided his career as a lawyer. His litigation experience includes numerous bench trials and jury trials, working as a private attorney and also for the U.S. Department of Labor in San Francisco. Since 2019, Joe has regularly served as a court-appointed mediator through the United States District Court for the Northern District of California’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program.
Joe currently represents private clients through trial court proceedings, administrative agency proceedings, and appeal proceedings in both state and federal jurisdictions. Clients also rely on his professionalism and expertise to protect their rights and resolve disputes without resorting to formal legal action at all.
In 2017, BNA released the Fourth Edition of Employee Benefits Law, the most authoritative publication in this practice area. Joe was a contributor to Chapter 12, Civil Procedure. He also contributed to Chapter 13, Benefit Claims, in the Third Edition; and Chapter 20, Ethics, in the 2016 Supplement.
- Areas of Practice
- Employee Benefits
- Insurance Bad Faith
- Complex Employment Issues
- Honors and Awards
Best Lawyers Magazine named Joe “2020 Lawyer of the Year in California” in the practice area of ERISA Litigation.
In 2017 Joe was honored for his work as an ERISA litigator with inclusion in the 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
Joe has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer in the area of Employee Benefits in every year from 2013 to 2020, and a Blue Ribbon Panel member for 2016, 2018, and 2020.
Joe received the 2012–2013 Esteemed Professor Award, and the 2016 and 2018 Teacher of the Year Awards from U.C. Hastings College of the Law for his work teaching Legal Research & Writing and Moot Court.
On February 15, 2012, the Daily Journal Corporation’s California Lawyer Magazine conferred its prestigious California Lawyer Attorney of the Year, or CLAY, award on Joseph Creitz for his successful work for the plaintiff in Cyr v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company. The award was delivered by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at a ceremony in March 2012.
In his January 2008 order awarding attorney’s fees to Joe and his co-counsel in Cyr v. Reliance Standard, later upheld by the Ninth Circuit, United States District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson described Joe’s legal work as “excellent,” “impressive,” and “superb.”
For his work on the Chao v. Dearman, et al., trial team, in April 2004 United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao bestowed upon Joe the Secretary’s Exceptional Achievement Award.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown named December 19, 2003, “Joe Creitz Day in San Francisco.”
- Bar Admissions
- United States Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, California
LL.M. – 2003, with honors
- University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California
J.D. – 1992
Dean’s Scholar, 1989–1992
AmJur Awards: Criminal Procedure, Prof. Peter Keane, 1990, Legal Writing and Research, Prof. Robert Nelson, 1989
ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, Western Regional Champion, 1991
Moot Court Board, and Best Brief Award nominee, 1990
Law Journal: Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Editorial Board, 1989–1991
Law Journal: Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, Note Editor, 1991–1992
- University of Wisconsin, Madison
B.S. with Departmental Distinction in U.S. History – 1989
- Published Works
Joe was a contributing author to the Ethics chapter of the 2016 Supplement to Third Edition of Bloomberg/BNA’s Employee Benefits Law treatise, the most authoritative publication in this practice area. And he was a contributing author and editor for the Civil Procedure chapter of the Fourth Edition, published in 2017, as well as the 2018 and 2019 cumulative updates.
Joe has given presentations to the ABA–EBC conference, the ABA–TIPS conference, and the AAJ on various aspects of ERISA litigation including the intersection of ERISA and the FDCPA, ethics, Article III standing, and health care provider claims.
- Representative Cases
- Sulyma v. Intel, 909 F.3d 1069 (9th Cir. 2018), aff’d --- S.Ct. ----, 2020 WL 908881 (Feb. 26, 2020)
- Anderson v. Sun Life, 647 Fed. App’x 772 (9th Cir. 2016)
- Spinedex v. United, 770 F.3d 1282 (9th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 317 (2015)
- Cyr v. Reliance, 629 F.3d 983 (9th Cir. 2011)
- Stanton v. Chung (Alameda County Superior Court)
- Cyr v. Reliance, 525 F. Supp. 2d 1165 (C.D. Cal. 2007), affirmed, 448 F. Appx. 749 (9th Cir. 2011), and 629 F.3d 983 (9th Cir. 2011)
- Blankenbaker, D.C. v. United Healthcare of Arizona, Inc, Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2005 WL 3803145 (D. Ariz. 2005)
- Chao v. GSI, et al., 2005, unpubl. decision of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Dist. Of Nevada
- Chao v. Dearman, et al., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 1581, 187 Fed.Appx. 685, 2006 WL 1737179, (Not Selected for publication in the Federal Reporter), Pens. Plan Guide (CCH) P 23996N, C.A.9 (Cal.) Docket No. 04-56136 (9th Cir. June 20, 2006)
- Chao v. Dearman, et al., 2004, unpubl. decision of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Central Dist. of California
- Pacific Micronesia Hotel Corporation v. HERE Local 5
- California Ironworkers Field Pension Trust, et al. v. Loomis, Sayles & Co.
- Laborers v. Delbon
- Cline v. TIMEC
- California Ironworkers Field Pension Trust, et al. v. Loomis, Sayles & Co.
- Ramirez v. Circuit City Stores, Inc., 90 Cal. Rptr. 2d. 916 (1999) reversed in part by Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc., 24 Cal. 4th 83 (2000)
- McMorgan & Co. v. First California Mortg. Co.
- Past Employment Positions
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California., Hon.Thelton Henderson., Judicial Externship, 1991
- U.C. Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California., Adjunct Professor, 1994–present
- U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor of Labor, San Francisco, California, Trial Attorney, 2003–2005
- 415 Productions, Inc., San Francisco, California., General Counsel/Corporate Secretary, 1999–2003
- The Law Office of Joseph A. Creitz, P.C., 2005–2013
- Van Bourg, Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, Oakland, California., Senior Associate Attorney, 1995–1999
- Bell, Rosenberg & Hughes, Oakland, California., Associate Attorney, 1992–1995
- Lawton & Cates, Madison, Wisconsin., Summer Associate, 1991
- Professors Eileen Scallen, David Jung, D. Kelly Weisberg, and Vivian Wilson., U.C. Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California., Teaching Assistant, 1990–1991
- Legal Writing & Research, and Torts, U.C. Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California., Teaching Assistant, 1990–1991
- Professors Eileen Scallen, David Jung, D. Kelly Weisberg, and Vivian Wilson., U.C. Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California., Research Assistant, 1990–1992
- Pro Bono Activities
- Crisis Text Line, Volunteer Crisis Counselor, Dec. 2016–present
- AIDS Legal Referral Panel – Volunteer Attorney, 2012–present
- San Francisco Children’s Council – Board Member, 2004–2008
- San Francisco SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Program – Volunteer, 2001–2006
- Briarpatch, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin. – Board Of Directors/Counselor, 1983–1987