Mealey's ERISA

  • August 16, 2017

    2nd Circuit: Pension Plan Amendment Didn’t Violate Anti-Cutback Provision

    NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 14 affirmed that an amendment to a pension plan did not violate the anti-cutback provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the amendment did not decrease a participant’s accrued benefits (Vincent Morrone v. The Pension Fund of Local No. One, I.A.T.S.E., No. 16-723, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15026).

  • August 15, 2017

    Split 7th Circuit Panel: ERISA Plan Forum-Selection Clauses Enforceable

    CHICAGO — A split Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 denied a petition for writ of mandamus asking it to transfer an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit back to Pennsylvania federal court, ruling in a case of first impression for the circuit that a forum-selection clause in an ERISA plan overrides the statute’s direction that suits may be brought in certain courts tied to the plan or the beneficiary (In re: George W. Mathias, No. 16-3808, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14803).

  • August 14, 2017

    7th Circuit Panel Affirms Woman’s Illinois State Law Claims Preempted By ERISA

    CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 affirmed that a woman’s Illinois state law wage claim is completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because she could have brought her claim under ERISA and because her claims did not implicate a legal duty independent of ERISA (Heather Studer v. Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital, No. 16-3728, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14800).

  • August 14, 2017

    7th Circuit Panel Affirms Woman’s Illinois State Law Claims Preempted By ERISA

    CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 affirmed that a woman’s Illinois state law wage claim is completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because she could have brought her claim under ERISA and because her claims did not implicate a legal duty independent of ERISA (Heather Studer v. Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital, No. 16-3728, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14800).

  • August 11, 2017

    Walgreens, CVS Hit With Class Suits Alleging Generic Drug Overpricing

    CHICAGO — Two groups of consumers, both represented by Hagens Berman, filed two separate class complaints, one in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on Aug. 7 and the second in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Aug. 9, accusing CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., respectively, of fraudulently driving up the cost of generic drugs (Megan Schultz, et al. v. CVS Health Corporation, No. 17-359, D. R.I., David Grabstald, et al. v. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., No. 17-5789, N.D. Ill.).

  • August 10, 2017

    Pennsylvania Federal Judge Says 401(k) Lawsuit Cannot Proceed As Class Action

    PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 7 ruled in an issue of first impression for the Third Circuit that a 401(k) plan participant’s lawsuit against a company, its retirement plan and its administrators may not proceed as a class action because the plaintiff has failed to allege that he is an adequate representative of other plan participants (Jason Mendenhall v. Out of Site Infrastructure, Inc., et al., No. 2:14-4996, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124341).

  • August 9, 2017

    New York Federal Judge Tosses Age Discrimination Claims Against Hotel Group

    NEW YORK — a New York federal judge on Aug. 4 granted a motion to dismiss age discrimination claims against a hotel group, saying that the plaintiff failed to state any facts that would support an argument that the defendant acted with discriminatory intent (Gregory Rooney v. VHM LLC, et al., No. 16-cv-9960, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124446).

  • August 8, 2017

    Attorney Fees Awarded To Disability Claimant, But No Contingency Enhancement

    DETROIT — A Michigan federal judge on Aug. 1 granted a disability claimant’s motion for attorney fees because the claimant achieved a modest level of success on the merits, but the judge refused to apply a contingency enhancement, as requested by the claimant’s attorney, after determining that a contingency enhancement is not appropriate when using the lodestar model to calculate the appropriate amount of attorney fees (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 11-15079, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120457).

  • August 8, 2017

    Unopposed Motion Filed Seeking $42.5M Settlement Of Church Plan Lawsuit

    NEWARK, N.J. — The plaintiffs in a consolidated Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action against a health care provider on Aug. 3 filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a $42.5 million class action settlement agreement with the provider (Donna Garbaccio, et al. v. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Subsidiaries, et al., No. 2:16-cv-02740, D. N.J.).

  • August 7, 2017

    8th Circuit Panel Says ERISA Plan Can Bring Claim Against Blanket Insurer

    ST. LOUIS — An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 3 ruled 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 in a dispute over whether the plan or the insurer had to provide primary coverage for medical expenses incurred by an injured student athlete (Dakotas and Western Minnesota Electrical Industry Health and Welfare Fund v. First Agency, Inc., et al., Nos. 16-1846, 16-3319, 16-3375, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14233).

  • August 4, 2017

    1st Circuit Panel Allows Alter-Ego Claims Against Transport Firm To Proceed

    BOSTON — A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 2 said an Employee Income Retirement Security Act case against a transportation company that is an alleged alter ego of a defunct transportation company that owes withdrawal liability can proceed, saying it is well established in First Circuit law that the alter-ego doctrine applies to ERISA claims (Edward F. Groden v. N&D Transportation Co., et al., No. 15-2553, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14184).

  • August 3, 2017

    Minnesota Federal Judge Dismisses ERISA, Securities Claims Against Target Corp.

    MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota federal judge on July 31 granted Target Corp.’s motion to dismiss an Employee Retirement Income Security Act action and a securities action against it, finding that the ERISA claims failed to plausibly allege that the defendants breached their duty of prudence, duty of loyalty and duty to monitor plan investment committee members and that the plaintiffs failed to show that the defendants’ statements were false or misleading when made, as required by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (In re: Target Corp. Securities Litigation, No. 16-1315;  In re:  Target Corp. ERISA Litigation, No. 16-2400, D. Minn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120055).

  • August 2, 2017

    9th Circuit Panel Says Summary Plan Description Covers Reimbursement Provisions

    PASADENA, Calif. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 1 vacated a California federal judge’s grant of summary judgment in favor of health plan participants, saying the judge erred in enjoining the plan and its board of directors from enforcing summary plan description provisions regarding reimbursement of benefits previously paid upon a plan participant’s receipt of a third-party recovery (Danielle Mull, et al. v. Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, et al., No. 15-56246, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13949).

  • August 1, 2017

    Interpretation Of Plan’s Terms Was Reasonable Based On Extrinsic Evidence

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 28 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a pension plan had the discretion to decide which level of disability retirement benefits should be paid to a plan participant and that the interpretation of the plan’s terms by the plan’s board of trustees was reasonable based on the extrinsic evidence (Harold Davis v. Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers, et al., No. 15-17212, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13727).

  • August 1, 2017

    DOL Files Amicus Brief Supporting Plaintiff Seeking Reformation Of Plan Document

    CINCINNATI — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on July 28 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of a plaintiff seeking reformation of a plan document, saying that a Michigan federal judge erred when he granted the plan summary judgment on the reformation claim because the plaintiff failed to establish that the plan had an intent to deceive (Randy D. Pearce v. Chrysler Group LLC Pension Plan, No. 17-1431, 6th Cir.).

  • July 31, 2017

    Loffredo Petitioners Bolster Case For High Court Review Of Age Discrimination Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a June 15 reply brief in support of their petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, former Chrysler Corp. executives who lost benefits under the company’s retirement plan say the respondents make several errors in their arguments in opposition, including that the petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit (John Loffredo, et al. v. Daimler AG, et al., No. 16-1334, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2155).

  • July 28, 2017

    Plan Will Not Be Prejudiced If Disability Claimant Proceeds Under Pseudonym

    OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal judge on July 26 granted a disability claimant’s motion to proceed under a pseudonym after determining that the need for anonymity outweighs prejudice to the defendant and the public’s interest in knowing the claimant’s identity (John Doe v. Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., No. 17-3963, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117110).

  • July 27, 2017

    Federal Judge Grants PricewaterhouseCoopers Judgment On Plaintiffs’ Whipsaw Claims

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on July 24 granted PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s (PwC) motion for judgment on the pleadings in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action, saying 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-cv-2280, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115067).

  • July 26, 2017

    Puerto Rico Federal Judge: Parties Haven’t Proven If Plan Is Exempt Church Plan

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rico federal judge on July 19 denied a motion to dismiss a putative Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action alleging that the defendants have mismanaged an employee pension plan, saying that the parties at this point have failed to prove whether the plan is a church plan exempt from ERISA’s requirements (Norma I. Cardoza-Estremera, et al. v. Colegio Padre Berrios, et al., No. 16-2318, D. Puerto Rico, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114435).

  • July 26, 2017

    Split 6th Circuit Panel Affirms Denial Of Man’s ERISA Benefit Claims

    CINCINNATI — A split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 19 affirmed a Michigan federal judge’s ruling that a retirement board did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying a man’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act benefit claims, agreeing that the man’s initial 16.2 years of Dow Chemical Co. service should not be used to calculate his pension benefits (Robert Johnston v. Dow Employees’ Pension Plan, et al., No. 16-2246, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13196).