Berger & Montague
Sarah Schalman-Bergen, of counsel with the AIDS Law Project, was
co-lead counsel on a case involving TIAA-CREF, a financial services
company, which had presented a man's retirement benefits to his
ex-wife, instead of his longtime partner who he had named as
In January, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell ruled in favor of
the client, Thomas Bernardo, Dr. John L. Turner's life partner of
more than 27 years. Turner was one of the first physicians -- and
among the only openly gay physicians -- to come forward to treat
HIV in the earliest years of the epidemic.
The court decided that Bernardo was the lawful beneficiary of all
of Turner's annuity contracts, and was therefore entitled to the
full amount of money in dispute. After a March 29, 2010, mediation,
TIAA-CREF paid Bernardo the full contract amount plus pre- and
post-judgment interest, as ordered by the court.
Schalman-Bergen, despite working full-time as an associate with
Berger & Montague, performed most of the research for this very
complex litigation, which involved choice-of-law questions between
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and state law.
Her dedication to the case, considering her history of service,
isn't surprising. Schalman-Bergen began working at the AIDS Law
Project of Pennsylvania in 2007 as a student of Harvard Law School,
where she advocated on behalf of HIV-positive individuals. After
graduation, she was awarded the Shestack Public Interest Fellowship
by Wolf Block, which allowed her to spend half her work time at the
AIDS Law Project.
When the fellowship ended, she took a voluntary pay cut to continue
her work with the AIDS Law Project. She met her billing
requirements for both firms while spending more than 300 hours over
two years just for this case.
She is currently an associate in Berger & Montague's antitrust
The full article is available here.