RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 24 affirmed a North Carolina judge’s ruling that a man’s pension plan wrongfully denied him regular early retirement benefits, saying that the man clearly qualified for regular early retirement under the plan’s terms (Garry Carroll v. Continental Automotive Inc., et al., No. 16-1152, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7119).
NEW YORK — In an unpublished decision, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held April 25 that a Connecticut federal judge properly dismissed a putative class action filed by Family Dollar Stores Inc. employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, saying that the plaintiffs failed to show that the insurance company that issued group life insurance to them was a fiduciary under ERISA (Patrick Hannan, et al. v. Hartford Financial Services Inc., et al., No. 16-1316, 2nd Cir.).
DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa state law does not require insurers to compensate chiropractors at the same rate as other medical professionals and would be preempted by ERISA if it did, the Iowa Supreme Court held April 21 (Lyle H. Abbas, et al. v. Iowa Insurance Division, Wellmark Inc., et al., No. 15-1248, Iowa Sup., 2017 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 39).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on April 13 ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to produce 63 documents it has withheld on the basis of the presidential communications privilege in a civil action against the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), saying that the subpoenaed material likely contains evidence directly relevant to issues that are expected to be central to the trial and that the evidence is not available with due diligence elsewhere (U.S. Department of the Treasury v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. Dennis Black, et al., No. 12-mc-100, D. D.C.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56598).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Because a district court and the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow prior decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in disability insurance cases, the high court should grant the plan administrators’ petition for writ of certiorari, the plan administrators argue in an April 12 petition (Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., et al. v. Janet Solnin, No. 16-1238, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1371).
PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge on April 13 ordered an employer to pay a beneficiary $750,000 plus interest and attorney fees for failing, under ERISA, to tell the beneficiary and her late husband about their right to convert a group life insurance policy into a personal policy that would continue in force after the husband was forced to leave due to a terminal brain tumor (Patricia Erwood v. Life Insurance Company of North America, et al., No. 14-1284, W.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56348).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 21 affirmed a Texas federal judge’s ruling denying coverage for partial hospitalization for mental health treatment, saying that the judge properly reviewed the denial of coverage under an abuse-of-discretion standard (Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas Inc., No. 16-20174, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7072).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 24 denied a disability claimant’s petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to review the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision that that the remand of a disability retirement claim was not an abuse of discretion or a violation of a previous court mandate (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 16-1117, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 13 said a trial court’s dismissal of a doctor’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act action against an employer health plan was final, and her second attempt at bringing her claims is barred by res judicata (W.A. Griffin, M.D. v. Focus Brands Inc., No. 16-13485, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6373).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island federal judge on April 18 adopted a report by a magistrate judge who recommended dismissal of an amended complaint arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act alleging that CVS Health Corp., its employee benefits plan committee and the manager of one of the plan’s investment options breached their fiduciary duties because new material in the complaint is insufficient to permit an inference of imprudence and dismissed the complaint with prejudice (Mary Barchock, et al. v. CVS Health Corp., et al., No. 1:16-cv-00061, D. R.I., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59083).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on April 19 certified a class of retirees in a suit filed by an employer seeking a court declaration that a union has the authority to agree to changes in retiree medical benefits for those persons who retired after a 1996 class action settlement that provided the retirees with medical benefits without violating federal law (Barnes Group, Inc. v. International Union United Automobile Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America, et al., No. 16-559, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59761).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 18 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying a claim for disability life insurance benefits because the disability life insurance benefit was not in the disability plan that was effective when the claimant became disabled (James B. Sumpter v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-2012, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6552).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on April 17 unsealed a two-week-old order certifying a class of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPMC) employees who invested in any of its stable value funds during 2009 and 2010, saying he found evidence of a possible causal link between alleged breaches of fiduciary duties and the underperformance of the funds (In re J.P. Morgan Stable Value Fund ERISA Litigation, No. 1:12-cv-2548, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 14 affirmed a New York federal judge’s dismissal of a plaintiff’s claims for pension and stock benefits on timeliness grounds, saying that his complaint was filed well outside of the six-year limitations period that applies to Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims (Benjamin Reches v. Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., No 16-3294, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6490).
BAY CITY, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge on April 13 directed an Indian tribe’s health care plan administrator to respond to the tribe’s request to file four sealed summary judgment documents on the public record in the tribe’s lawsuit alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56562).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 14 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a disability claimant’s allegation of deprivation of rights after determining that the pension plan that administered the disability plan at issue did not act in the interests of the “state” as required by the federal statute governing the claim for deprivation of rights (Joseph Reinwand v. National Electrical Benefit Fund, et al., No. 16-3381, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6472).
NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 10 affirmed a New York federal judge’s ruling that a plaintiff in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit failed to exhaust a pension plan’s internal administrative procedures before filing suit (Kevin McCulloch v. Board of Trustees of the SEIU Affiliates Officers and Employees Pension Plan, et al., No. 16-1374, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6099).
PHILADELPHIA — A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 11 affirmed a New Jersey federal court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging a ruling that a man was ordered to reimburse a health benefit plan after he obtained a settlement from a third party for injuries he suffered in an accident, saying the lawsuit is barred by the doctrine of res judicata (Bernard McLaughlin, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 16-4108, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6195).
ST. LOUIS — A Missouri federal judge on March 30 granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act alleging that the fiduciaries of three employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) breached their fiduciary duties by keeping a company stock fund as an investment option after the company began having financial difficulties, saying the claims did not meet the high standard for stating a claim set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Fifth Third Bancorp. v. Dudenhoeffer (Lori J. Lynn, et al. v. Peabody Energy Corp., et al., No. 4:15-cv-00916, E.D. Mo., Eastern Div., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48468).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 7 affirmed an Ohio federal judge’s decision to dismiss a class action filed by members of the Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) alleging breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, saying that the decision is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp. v. Dudenhoeffer that allowed fiduciaries for ESOPs to rely solely on the market price of a security as a risk barometer (Paul Saumer, et al. v. Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., et al., No. 16-3449, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6015).