Mealey's ERISA

  • February 16, 2018

    Federal Judge Grants Class Certification In NYU Retirement Plan Dispute

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Feb. 13 granted a motion for class certification in a lawsuit alleging that New York University (NYU) breached its duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in its administration and management of its retirement plan (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, et al., No. 16-6284, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23540).

  • February 16, 2018

    2nd Circuit Denies Petition For Appeal Of Class Certification Grant

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 13 denied a retirement plan’s administrative and investment committees’ petition for permission to appeal the grant of class certification in a breach of fiduciary duty case in which the investors claim that the defendants selected company-affiliated mutual funds as plan investments rather than other better-performing mutual funds, finding that immediate appeal is unwarranted (Marya J. Leber v. Citigroup, Inc., et al., No. 07-9329, 2nd Cir.).

  • February 13, 2018

    Claimant Failed To Prove Back Pain Was Sole Cause Of Disability

    PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 12 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer’s termination of benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the claimant failed to prove that she suffered solely from a physical disability that precluded her from performing the duties of any occupation (Serilyn Krash v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Group, No. 17-1814, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3240).

  • January 24, 2018

    Judge Refuses To Reconsider Ruling On Whipsaw Claims Against Pricewaterhouse Coopers

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Jan. 22 refused to reconsider a July 24 ruling that granted PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP's (PwC) motion for judgment on the pleadings in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action, reaffirming that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they are entitled to relief under ERISA for their whipsaw claims (Timothy Laurent, et al. v. Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, et al., No. 06-2280, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8995).

  • February 13, 2018

    Participant To High Court: Foot Locker Concealed Pension Plan Changes

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Changes by Foot Locker Inc. and Foot Locker Retirement Plan (collectively, Foot Locker) to a pension plan were concealed from employees, and a trial court did not err when it found that the misconduct constituted equitable fraud and violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a plan participant argues in his opposition brief filed Jan. 10 in the U.S. Supreme Court (Foot Locker, Inc., et al. v. Geoffrey Osberg, et al., No. 17-690, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 12, 2018

    Federal Judge Says Class Certification Will Be Granted In Retirement Plan Dispute

    NEW YORK — Noting that the parties involved in a suit alleging that New York University (NYU) breached its duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in its administration and management of its retirement plan may benefit from an early indication of class certification, a New York federal judge on Feb. 7 entered an order stating that the court intended to grant the plaintiffs’ order for class certification (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, et al., No. 1:16-cv-6284, S.D. N.Y.).

  • February 12, 2018

    Financial Company To High Court: Appeal Is Poor Vehicle For ERISA Question

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should deny a petition for writ of certiorari filed by an employee stock ownership plan and trust seeking a decision on whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act shifts the burden of persuasion on causation to the defendant once a plaintiff has shown a prima facie case of loss because the facts of the case don’t actually present that question, a financial company argues in its Feb. 5 brief in opposition (The Pioneer Centres Holding Company Stock Ownership Plan, et al. v. Alerus Financial, N.A., No. 17-667, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 9, 2018

    ERISA Health Insurer, Florida Service Provider Ask Court To Dismiss Suit

    TAMPA, Fla. — An insurer and an out-of-network health care provider engaged in a battle over what constitutes the proper reimbursement rate under Florida law and whether those claims implicate ERISA asked a federal court to dismiss the case with prejudice on Feb. 7 (Premier Inpatient Partners LLC, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., Nos. 17-3000, 17-3001, M.D. Fla.).

  • February 8, 2018

    Plan Says High Court Should Deny Review In Coordination-Of-Benefits Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The high court should refuse to review an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel’s ruling that an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan can bring a declaratory judgment claim to enforce the plan’s coordination-of-benefits provision against a blanket insurer because the decision does not conflict with any other federal or state court opinion, a health plan argues in a Jan. 16 opposition to a petition for writ of certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court (First Agency Inc., et al. v. Dakotas and Western Minnesota Electrical Industry Health and Welfare Fund, No. 17-863, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 183;  Dakotas and Western Minnesota Electrical Industry Health and Welfare Fund v. First Agency, Inc., et al., No. 17-1008, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 202).

  • February 8, 2018

    5th Circuit Upholds Ruling For RadioShack In Stock Investment ERISA Suit

    NEW ORLEANS — RadioShack Corp. employees who participated in its 401(k) plan failed to show that RadioShack’s board of directors and 401(k) plan administrative committee breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by allowing plan participants to invest in RadioShack stock while the company was headed to bankruptcy, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 6, upholding a trial court’s ruling for RadioShack (Manoj P. Singh v. RadioShack Corporation, et al., Jeffrey Snyder v. RadioShack Corporation, et al., William A. Gerhart, et al. v. RadioShack Corporation, et al., No. 16-11587, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2904).

  • February 7, 2018

    Spine Center’s ERISA Claims Survive Dismissal, Federal Judge Says

    TRENTON, N.J. — A medical provider has a valid assignment of Employee Retirement Income Security Act benefits, and it is too early in its litigation against an insurer to determine if its claims seek duplicative recovery, a federal judge in New Jersey held Feb. 2 (University Spine Center v. Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Ins. Co., No. 17-8711, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17537).

  • February 6, 2018

    Judge Rejects ‘Incontestability Claim’ In ERISA Dispute Over Life Insurance

    OKLAHOMA CITY —An Oklahoma federal judge on Feb. 2 denied a surviving spouse’s motion for summary adjudication on the issue of whether a life insurance policy’s “Incontestability Clause” applied to permit him to receive an additional life insurance benefit under his deceased wife’s employee-sponsored policy (Greg Smith v. Standard Insurance Company, et al., No. 15-1126, W.D. Okla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17426).

  • February 5, 2018

    Judge: California Law Bars Discretionary Clause In ERISA Health Insurance Case

    SAN FRANCISCO — De novo review applies to an insurer’s denial of coverage for mental health treatments under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the California Insurance Code treats health insurance as a form of disability insurance and bars discretionary clauses, a federal judge in the state held Jan. 31 (Mahlon D., et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., No. 16-7230, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16332).

  • February 5, 2018

    Judge Allows Claims To Proceed In Class Action Over Coverage For Treatment Facility

    NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 30 refused to dismiss two counts in a claimant’s class action lawsuit seeking benefits under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act health plan for her stay at an out-of-network residential psychiatric treatment facility, rejecting the defendants’ argument that the two counts are “merely improper attempts to repackage her claim for benefits” (E.S., by and through her parents and guardians, To.S. and Ti.S., individually, on behalf of similarly situated individuals v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. Benefits Administration Committee, et al., No. 17-03351, D. N.J.).

  • February 5, 2018

    Honeywell Will Appeal Temporary Injunction In Early Retirement Benefits Dispute

    MINNEAPOLIS — Honeywell filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the same day a district court judge issued an amended opinion granting a motion for preliminary injunction filed by a class of retirees seeking to stop the termination of their health care benefits (Augustine Pacheco, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 17-5048, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15699).

  • February 2, 2018

    Judge Finds Vague ERISA Claims Don’t Put Insurer On Notice Of Claims

    ATLANTA — A hospital’s general references to Employee Retirement Income Security Act plans is not sufficiently specific to put a health care insurer on notice of the claims against it, and requiring at least a summary of the number of plans in question would not hamper judicial efficiency, a federal judge in Georgia held Jan. 30 in dismissing the case (Polk Medical Center Inc. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Inc., et al., No. 17-3692, N.D. Ga., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14461).

  • February 2, 2018

    D.C. Appeals Panel Says Class Counsel Is Not Entitled To Additional Payment

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 30 affirmed a district court’s finding that class counsel are not entitled to additional fees for locating pension beneficiaries in conjunction with a class action settlement because the terms of the settlement agreement are not ambiguous and clearly provided a 10-year payment period for class counsel (Mary E. Collins, et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., et al., Nos. 16-5310, 16-5318, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2282).

  • February 2, 2018

    3 Subclasses Certified In ERISA Suit Over Oracle Plan Fees, Investments

    DENVER — A Colorado federal judge on Jan. 30 denied certification of the plaintiffs’ proposed class in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit accusing Oracle Corp. of making imprudent investments and allowing the collection of excessive fees related to its 401(k) plan but granted certification of more narrow subclasses related to the imprudent investment claims (Deborah Troudt, et al. v. Oracle Corporation, et al., No. 16-175, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15151).

  • February 1, 2018

    Retaliation Claims Trimmed In Suit Over Allstate Agent Reorganization

    PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Jan. 29 trimmed retaliation claims asserted under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a consolidated lawsuit over Allstate Insurance Co.’s reorganization that switched employee agents to independent contractors, finding that the retaliation claims that were based on Allstate’s counterclaims cannot proceed because the counterclaims were not objectively baseless (Gene R. Romero, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al., Nos. 01-3894, 01-6764, 03-6872, 15-1049 and 15-3047, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14160).

  • January 31, 2018

    Disability Insurer Must Reimburse Claimant For Amount Of Offset Benefits

    MISSOULA, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Jan. 30 reinstated a disability claimant’s long-term disability benefits and ordered the disability insurer to reimburse the claimant for the amount offset by the insurer after determining that a settlement received by the claimant was not subject to offset because the settlement was not for the same disability for which the claimant was receiving disability benefits (Dawn Rustad-Link v. Providence Health and Services, et al., No. 16-136, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14928).