SAN FRANCISCO — A district court did not err in finding that a multiemployer pension plan correctly applied a prior partial withdrawal credit before applying a credit under the debt forgiveness provision, as outlined in the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA), after a union withdrew its participation in the retirement fund, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said Dec. 7 (GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund, et al. v. Quad/Graphics Inc., No. 17-55667, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34489).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on Nov. 28 ordered the fiduciaries of the Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan to pay $145,635 in restitution to 596 employees who paid a tobacco use surcharge as part of their medical insurance from Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 21, 2017, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (R. Alexander Acosta v. Dorel Juvenile Group Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-2993, S.D. Ind.).
NEW YORK — Employees plausibly asserted a duty‐of‐prudence claim against fiduciaries of an IBM employee stock option plan (ESOP) under a stricter standard for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 10, reversing and remanding a lower court’s judgment (Larry W. Jander, et al. v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al., No. 17-3518, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34621).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal judge on Dec. 7 signed an order granting joint stipulation to stay pretrial and trial deadlines for 60 days after the parties announced that they reached an agreement in principle to settle a former employee’s lawsuit accusing his employer and its retirement plan investment committee of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging 401(k) plan participants excessive fees and engaging in prohibited transactions (Marlon H. Cryer, et al. v. Franklin Resources, Inc., et al., No. 16-4265, N.D. Calif.).
DENVER — A fund operator accused of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act asked the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm a summary judgment ruling in its favor in a redacted version of its appellee brief that was released Nov. 15, contending that the lower court properly found that it is not a fiduciary with respect to a portfolio fund (John Teets v. Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, No. 18-1019, 10th Cir.).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt University on Dec. 3 responded to plan participants’ objection to a magistrate’s report that recommended the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee strike their request for a jury in their lawsuit alleging that the university, the oversight committee and members of the committee mismanaged the employee retirement plan in violation of the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn.).
BOSTON — A health insurance plan’s exclusion for custodial care unambiguously includes the wilderness therapy treatments at the heart of three plaintiffs’ ERISA suit, a federal judge in Massachusetts said Dec. 6 (David Cotton, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue Inc., et al., No. 16-12176, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205869).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge did not err in dismissing a lawsuit against New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and others because the judge properly found that the lawsuit was duplicative of an earlier filed lawsuit alleging that NYU breached its duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in its administration and management of its retirement plan, the retirement plan adviser maintains in a Dec. 4 brief filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v, New York University School of Medicine, et al., No. 18-1558, 2nd Cir.).
ST. LOUIS — A district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of a disability plan because the plan’s termination of benefits was not an abuse of discretion and was reasonable based on the medical evidence, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 6 (Gary Leirer v. The Proctor & Gamble Disability Benefit Plan, et al., No. 17-3426, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34406).
NEW YORK — A motion to vacate a district judge’s ruling in favor of New York University, alleged to have made imprudent investments in retirement plans for members of faculty, research staff and school administration, should be denied because the plaintiffs failed to meet their high burden of proving that the judge who entered the ruling was required to recuse herself based on her decision to leave the federal district court and join a law firm that is chaired by a NYU trustee, NYU argues in its Nov. 29 opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion to vacate judgment or for a new trial (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 16- 6284, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — In an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 3 that an employee needed to provide records of covered work throughout his time with a trucking company to collect benefits (Michael Babino v. Thomas Gesualdi, et al., No. 17-3444, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33860).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge’s determination that a trustee violated the whistleblower provision of Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when he placed an internal auditor on administrative leave was upheld Dec. 4 by a full panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but the court split on whether the accused actions constitute a fiduciary breach (R. Alexander Acosta v. Scott Brain, et al., Nos. 16-56529, -56532, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34072).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A class of current and former BB&T Corp. employees who participated in the company’s 401(k) plan and who claim that the company violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing the plan to pay unreasonable investment management and administrative fees, selecting and retaining underperforming investment vehicles, and engaging in prohibited transaction filed a motion in North Carolina federal court on Nov. 30, seeking preliminary approval of a $24 million settlement (Robert Sims, et al. v. BB&T Corp., No. 15-cv-732-CCE-JEP, M.D. N.C.).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 4 affirmed a lower federal court’s judgment against an appellant on his claim for dependent benefits under a life insurance policy that was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, finding that the appellant’s ex-wife ceased to be an eligible dependent as of the date of their divorce (David Glenn Morris v. Southern Intermodal Xpress, et al., No. 18-10785, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34050).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 26 vacated and remanded a district court’s ruling that a profit-sharing account issued to the president of a company is subject to garnishment under Florida law after determining that the district court failed to explain why the funds in the profit-sharing account should be considered assets of the company that are subject to garnishment (Whirlpool Corp. v. Freight Revenue Recovery of Miami Inc., No. 17-14752, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33099).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 remanded a disability claimant’s suit after determining that the district court must determine the whether the source of a claimant’s disability is physical or mental (Miae Decovich v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 17-15324, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33890).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 30 corrected a ruling vacating and remanding a lower court’s dismissal of two out of three claims in a doctor’s case alleging that health plan administrators underpaid for her services and failed to provide requested plan documents, finding that the doctor adequately asserted that she is eligible for additional benefits and statutory damages (W.A. Griffin v. TeamCare, No. 18-2374, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33660).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Counsel for both sides in a class suit alleging excessive fees and imprudent investment funds in Duke University’s retirement plan in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act told a North Carolina federal court on Nov. 29 that a settlement has been reached (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C.).
CHICAGO —A plan participant and two servicers of her company’s 401(k) retirement plan on Nov. 28 entered a stipulation of dismissal of a lawsuit in which the participant alleged that the servicers violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by receiving excessive fees for the services they provided to the plan (Cheryl Scott, et al. v. Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors LLC, et al., No. 17-679, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44606).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The University of Southern California (USC) on Nov. 29 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that affirmed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration in a suit claiming that it charged excessive fees for its 403(b) retirement plan, as well as other breaches of fiduciary duties (University of Southern California, et al. v. Allen L. Munro, et al., No. 18-703, U.S. Sup.).