Mealey's ERISA

  • October 18, 2019

    California Retirement Plan Not Preempted By ERISA, Defendants Maintain

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In an Oct. 15 response to a statement of interest filed by the United States in a California federal court lawsuit over the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust Act (Secure Choice Act), the California state defendants maintain that the Secure Choice Act does not impose the kinds of discretionary duties on employers that would trigger preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and say the United States provides no reason to revisit the court’s prior decision to dismiss the suit (Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et al. v. California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, et al., No. 18-1584, E.D. Calif.).

  • October 18, 2019

    Objection To Proposed ERISA Settlement Should Be Overruled, Plaintiffs Say

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge should overrule an objection to a proposed $14.5 million settlement of a plan participants’ lawsuit accusing Vanderbilt University, the oversight committee and members of the committee of mismanaging the employee retirement plan because the proposed release of claims against the nonparty service providers does not constitute a prohibited transaction under Employee Income Retirement Security Act, the plaintiffs maintain in an Oct. 11 response to the objection (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn.).

  • October 15, 2019

    United, Class Brief Reconsideration In Facility-Fee Class Case

    NEW YORK — Whether assignment of Employee Retirement Income Security Act rights requires reversing class certification of a group of surgery providers claiming that the insurer denied payment for facility fees without regard for whether coverage existed under specific plan language came before a New York federal judge on Oct. 14 as the parties briefed a motion for reconsideration (The Medical Society of the State of New York, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 16-5265, S.D. N.Y.).

  • October 15, 2019

    Panel Says District Court Must Recalculate Award In Unpaid Contributions Suit

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 10 vacated and remanded a district court’s award of damages and attorney fees in a dispute over unpaid health care benefit contributions after determining that the lower court erred in applying the delinquency policy's interest rate based on the effective date of a memorandum of agreement between the parties (Building Service 32BJ Health Fund v. Nutrition Management Services Co., et al., No. 18-2449, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 30327).

  • October 15, 2019

    U.S. Supreme Court Will Not Consider Case Involving Vesting Of Retiree Benefits

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 15 denied review of an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling reversing and remanding a lower federal court’s amended opinion that granted a motion for preliminary injunction filed by a class of retirees seeking to stop the termination of their health care benefits, finding that the benefits were not vested as a matter of law (Augustine Pacheco, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 19-341, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 15, 2019

    High Court Will Not Hear Subrogation Dispute Between Health Plan, Participant

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 15 declined to review a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a New Jersey federal judge did not abuse his discretion in disallowing discovery in a protracted legal dispute between a health benefit plan and one of its participants (Bernard McLaughlin v. National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 19-190, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 15, 2019

    Plan Member Urges High Court To Review Ruling On Summary Plan Description

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should review the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling  that the terms of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan contained in the summary plan description (SPD) permitted the plan to seek reimbursement of health benefits paid to a member for injuries caused by another after that party’s insurer settled because the ruling is not consistent with precedent previously established by the high court, the plan member contends in an Oct. 1 petition for writ of certiorari (Robert Hoch v. MBI Energy Services, No. 19-444, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 14, 2019

    5th Circuit Doesn’t Want 2nd Look At Dialysis Provider’s Suit

    NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion for rehearing Oct. 10, letting stand a decision finding a health care plan’s anti-assignment provision prevented a health care provider from suing an insurer (Dialysis Newco Inc., et al. v. Community Health Systems Group Health Plan, et al., No. 18-40863, 5th Cir.).

  • October 14, 2019

    Federal Judge To Empanel Advisory Jury In Retirement Plan Mismanagement Suit

    BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Oct. 8 granted a motion to strike a jury demand but decided to empanel an advisory jury in a suit filed by plaintiffs who allege that the defendant plan fiduciaries mismanaged the plaintiffs’ retirement savings plan after determining that an advisory jury will preserve the plaintiffs’ rights despite the fact that a jury trial does not attach to the plaintiffs’ claims, which could result in an equitable surcharge rather than legal damages (Kevin Moitoso, et al. v. FMR LLC, et al., No. 18-12122, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175093).

  • October 09, 2019

    Limited Partnership Action Seeks Labor Department Opinion On Health Care Plan Status

    DALLAS — A limited partnership filed suit in Texas federal court on Oct. 4, seeking to force the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue an advisory opinion declaring that the self-insured health plan it offers common-law employees and limited partners is not a multiple welfare arrangement (MEWA) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Data Marketing Partnership LP v. United States Department of Labor, et al., No. 19-800, N.D. Texas).

  • October 08, 2019

    Pension Plan Participants Seek Relief After Complaint Against PepsiCo Dismissed

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A group of participants in PepsiCo Inc.’s retirement plan on Oct. 1 moved for reconsideration after a New York federal judge on Sept. 24 dismissed the participants’ complaint finding that their claim for violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s anti-forfeiture provision cannot stand because the anti-forfeiture provision applies only to normal retirement benefits upon the attainment of normal retirement age and the plaintiffs do not claim that the defendants deprived them of the full amount of pension payments they would achieve at normal retirement age (William DuBuske, et al. v. PepsiCo Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-11618, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164383).

  • October 08, 2019

    Amici Urge High Court To Affirm 2nd Circuit Ruling In Favor Of Plan Participants

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In three amicus curiae briefs, all filed Oct. 1 in support of plan participants who allege that plan fiduciaries violated their duty of prudence by continuing to invest employee stock option plan (ESOP) funds despite insider knowledge that the stock price was artificially inflated, the amici urge the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that the plan participants stated a plausible claim for relief (Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al. v. Larry W. Jander, et al., No. 18-1165, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 08, 2019

    U.S. High Court Won’t Review Forum Selection Clauses In ERISA Plans

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 declined to grant petition for a writ of certiorari filed by an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participant seeking a decision on whether private employee benefit plans can override the statutory venue choices provide by Congress (Jeffrey A. Robertson v. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 18-1341, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 08, 2019

    U.S. Supreme Court Denies Insurers’ Petition In ERISA Preemption Suit

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by two health insurance companies that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision on whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts state law claims accusing the companies of making misrepresentations about monthly premiums (Caring for Montanans, Inc., et al. v. The Depot, Inc., et al., No. 19-77, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 07, 2019

    High Court Denies Review Of Claimant’s Petition On Any-Occupation Standard

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied a disability claimant’s petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to consider the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that a district court properly remanded a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits to determine whether benefits are available under a plan’s any-occupation standard (Thomas P. Kelly Jr. v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 19-146, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 07, 2019

    Top Court Denies Review In ERISA Health Care Rights-Assignment Spat

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied a health care insurer’s petition for review, leaving stand a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling finding that direct payments to a provider waived an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan’s anti-assignment provision protections (Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co. v. Encompass Office Solutions, Inc., No. 19-196, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 07, 2019

    High Court Denies Disability Claimant’s Petition On ‘Regular Occupation’ Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 refused to review the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of a disability insurer on the insurer’s interpretation of the term “regular occupation” (Juanita Nichols v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 19-242, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 07, 2019

    Disability Claimant’s Petition Denied; 6th Circuit’s Fraud On Court Ruling Stands

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied a disability claimant’s pro se petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to review the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that the claimant’s attorney did not commit fraud upon the court (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 19-98, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 07, 2019

    Judge Grants Motion To Certify Class In Suit Against Yale Alleging Plan Mishandling

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on Sept. 24 granted a motion for class certification in a putative class action alleging that Yale University, as sponsor of a defined contribution retirement plan, breached its duties of loyalty and prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing plan participants to pay millions of dollars in unreasonable and excessive administrative fees (Joseph Vellali, et al. v. Yale University, et al., No. 16-1345, D. Conn.).

  • October 07, 2019

    Protective Order, Compel Motions Partly Granted In ERISA Benefits Suspension Suit

    BALTIMORE — A Maryland federal magistrate judge on Oct. 3 issued mixed discovery rulings for two retirees and their union’s benefit plan in a dispute over suspended pension benefits, granting in part and denying in part their respective motions to compel and for a protective order related to documents and interrogatories of similarly situated plan participants (Michael Chavis, et al. v. Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 486 Pension Plan, et al., No. 1:17-cv-02729, D. Md., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171742).