Mealey's ERISA

  • July 26, 2021

    $4.75M Settlement In IBM Stock-Drop Case Gets Final Approval

    NEW YORK — A federal judge on July 21 granted final approval to a $4.75 million class settlement in a lawsuit brought by participants in an International Business Machine Corp. (IBM) employee stock option plan (ESOP) who accused the plan’s fiduciaries of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by continuing to invest funds in IBM common stock despite their insider knowledge that the stock price was artificially inflated.

  • July 22, 2021

    Class Cert Requirements Not Met In ERISA 401(k) Challenge, Goldman Sachs Says

    NEW YORK — A retirement plan participant’s allegations that The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and plan managers violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by retaining proprietary mutual funds do not satisfy the requirements for class certification in part because of “his evidence-free approach,” the defendants argue in a July 19 sur-reply filed in a federal court in New York.

  • July 22, 2021

    Most Claims Survive Dismissal In ERISA Fiduciary Duties Class Action Over 401(k)

    SANTA ANA, Calif. — Participants in a 401(k) adequately pleaded breach of fiduciary duty claims against their employer and the plan’s administrative committee under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a putative class action, a federal judge in California ruled July 16 in a minutes order, denying a motion to dismiss except on an alternative claim of knowing breach of trust.

  • July 21, 2021

    5th Circuit Rules Against 401(k) Participants, Finding Lack Of Standing

    NEW ORLEANS — Pension plan participants lack standing to bring claims against American Airlines Inc. and related entities for breach of the fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 19, also affirming that a district court did not abuse its discretion in denying preliminary approval of a class settlement in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act case.

  • July 20, 2021

    Federal Court Must Enforce Administrative Subpoena In ERISA Probe, DOL Argues

    NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York must enforce an administrative subpoena issued against MetLife Inc. because it is valid, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Martin J. Walsh says in a May 18 reply to the insurer’s opposition to a petition filed as part of an investigation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • July 16, 2021

    En Banc Review Of Ruling On Preemption Not Needed, Seattle Tells 9th Circuit

    SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruling that a Seattle ordinance requiring large hotels to spend certain amounts on health coverage for their employees is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not merit rehearing, the city of Seattle argues in a July 15 brief responding to a trade association’s petition for rehearing en banc, asserting that the circuit’s controlling Golden Gate Rest. Ass’n v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco decision remains grounded in clear precedent.

  • July 16, 2021

    9th Circuit Affirms Denial Of Supplemental Life Benefit Based On Employment Finding

    PASADENA, Calif. — A federal judge in California’s finding regarding which company had employed a decedent was not clearly erroneous, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 9 in an unpublished memorandum disposition, affirming the judge’s denial of a trust’s claim for supplemental life insurance benefits under a plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • July 16, 2021

    Pension Plan Participants Seek High Court Review Of Deference Dispute With PBGC

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel erred in holding that deference under Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. applies to all Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) interpretations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act “regardless of whether PBGC was wearing its statutorily affixed ‘insurer hat’ or its voluntarily donned ‘fiduciary hat,’” plan participants say in their June 30 petition for a writ of certiorari seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of the ruling upholding a decision that PBGC’s final benefits determinations were not arbitrary or capricious.

  • July 13, 2021

    Interlocutory Appeal Regarding Validity Of 401(k) Hardwiring Provision Denied

    BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on July 2 denied a petition to certify for interlocutory appeal the question of whether a hardwiring amendment that required trustees of the T. Rowe Price Group Inc.’s 401(k) retirement plan to offer only proprietary funds is void under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • July 13, 2021

    $13M Settlement Approved In University Of Pennsylvania Pension Plan Fees Suit

    PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on June 29 granted preliminary approval of a $13 million settlement in a class action lawsuit in which participants in University of Pennsylvania’s 403(b) defined contribution pension benefits plans accused the university and the investment committee of causing the plans to pay unreasonable record-keeping and administrative fees and to maintain high-cost and underperforming investment options in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • July 13, 2021

    5th Circuit: Employee Fails To Prove Benefit Denial, Estoppel Under ERISA

    NEW ORLEANS — An employee failed to demonstrate that a pension plan violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying benefits to an employee to whom it had mistakenly provided a statement of estimated benefits because the employee was not eligible for benefits under the plan’s terms and the employee failed to demonstrate that he relied on the misstatements, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed June 24 in an unpublished opinion.

  • July 13, 2021

    Columbia University’s $13M Settlement Of ERISA Retirement Plan Dispute Approved

    NEW YORK — A $13 million class action settlement between Columbia University trustees and participants in two 403(b) plans relating to the participants’ claims that the trustees violated Employee Retirement Income Security Act by paying unreasonable record-keeping and administrative fees and by maintaining high-cost and underperforming investment options received preliminary approval by a federal judge in New York on June 29.

  • July 12, 2021

    Participants To 5th Circuit: Affirm Ruling For Limited Partnership In Row With DOL

    NEW ORLEANS — Saying in a June 29 amicus curiae brief that they “would lose their affordable healthcare” if a Texas federal judge’s decision is overturned, three participants in a single-employer group health plan urge the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm the judgment in favor of a limited partnership, which set aside an advisory opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and barred the DOL from denying that the plan was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • July 12, 2021

    9th Circuit:  Life Insurer Is Liable After Employer Actions Waived Requirement

    PASADENA, Calif. — A life insurance policy’s evidence of insurability requirement was waived because the employer’s actions in self-administering the plan “were ‘so inconsistent with an intent to enforce’ the requirement that it was reasonable for [the beneficiary] to believe she was not required to submit such evidence,” the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 9 in an unpublished memorandum opinion, affirming the judgment of a federal judge in California who ordered the insurer to pay full benefits and attorney fees and dismissed a third-party complaint against the employer.

  • July 12, 2021

    9th Circuit Denies Rehearing On Overestimated Benefits Statements Case

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 9 denied review in a case in which the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had urged rehearing, letting stand its panel decision that “[c]alculation of benefits pursuant to a formula is not a fiduciary function” and, therefore, Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims regarding overestimated pension benefit statements failed.

  • July 12, 2021

    Parties Spar Over Summary Judgment Motion In 401(k) Valuation Lawsuit

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Citing a conflict of interest, participants in a 401(k) plan argue in their June 28 opposition to a motion for summary judgment that a modified deferential standard of review should apply to their suit in a federal court in Rhode Island alleging that requested market valuations were unreasonably delayed until after COVID-19 negatively affected the stock market; in their July 6 reply, the plan, its administrator and trustees assert that the participants have failed to demonstrate such a conflict.

  • July 09, 2021

    Plaintiffs Argue Review Standard In Opposing Summary Judgment In Valuation Lawsuit

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Participants in a 401(k) plan argue in their June 28 opposition to a motion for summary judgment that a modified deferential standard of review should apply to their suit in a federal court in Rhode Island that alleges that the plan, its administrator and trustees unreasonably delaying requested market valuations until after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and negatively affected the stock market, saying “the Insider and fiduciary Plan participants had a disproportionate share of the Plan assets, and the most to gain by the special valuation date.”

  • July 09, 2021

    Causation, Top Court Ruling Feature In Post-Briefing Letters By Insurer, Class

    SAN FRANCISCO — Parties to a dispute over coverage and payment for care at residential treatment centers recently filed post-briefing letters with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on the impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, No. 20-297 (June 25, 2021) and on whether the insurer misstated the causation issue in its briefs or if the class was simply attempting to file a sur-reply “in the guise of purported error correction.”

  • July 09, 2021

    7th Circuit Finds No Federal Jurisdiction In ERISA Successor Liability Case

    CHICAGO — Employee benefit funds failed to establish federal jurisdiction over their suit that seeks to impose an Employee Retirement Income Security Act judgment against a company on the basis of successor liability, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 7, vacating the action with instructions to dismiss it on remand.

  • July 09, 2021

    Finding Common Control, 7th Circuit Affirms Property Owners’ Withdrawal Liability

    CHICAGO — Property owners giving a corporation that they owned rent-free use of the property was engaging “in a trade or business under common control,” the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 7, affirming the judgment of a federal court in Illinois that the individuals — along with other entities — are personally liable for the corporation’s withdrawal liability to a multiemployer defined pension plan fund.