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Mealey's ERISA

  • June 22, 2018

    6th Circuit Reverses Ruling On Pension Plan Participant’s Reformation Claim

    CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 20 reversed and remanded a district court’s ruling on a plaintiff’s reformation claim after determining that the lower court’s conclusion that the plaintiff failed to establish that the plan had an intent to deceive was based on an incorrect statement of the law (Randy D. Pearce v. Chrysler Group LLC Pension Plan, No. 17-1431, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16599).

  • June 22, 2018

    Disability Claimant Owed Own-Occupation Benefits; Attorney Fee Award Remanded

    SAN FRANCSICO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 21 affirmed a district court’s award of own-occupation long-term disability (LTD) benefits in favor of a disability claimant but vacated and remanded the lower court’s award of attorney fees in favor of the claimant for recalculation (Dave Nagy v. Group Long Term Disability Plan for Employees of Oracle America Inc., et al., Nos. 16-16160, 17-15491, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16883).

  • June 22, 2018

    Insurer’s Denial Of LTD Benefits Was Not Arbitrary Or Capricious, Panel Says

    DENVER — A disability insurer did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying a plan participant’s claim for long-term (LTD) disability benefits because the insurer’s denial was supported by substantial evidence, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 21 (John Dardick v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, et al., No. 17-1412, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16753).

  • June 21, 2018

    Employer Must Reimburse Funds For Delinquent Contributions, Panel Says

    PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 19 affirmed a district court’s ruling that an employer is required to reimburse its employees’ retirement funds for delinquent contributions because the collective bargaining agreement requires the employer to make contributions on behalf of all employees regardless of their union status (Frank Kelly, et al., v. Gas Field Specialists Inc., No. 17-2654, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16474).

  • June 20, 2018

    Claims Related To Alleged Target Stock Inflation Cannot Stand, Judge Says

    MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota federal judge on June 15 dismissed a complaint alleging that Target Corp. and its 401(k) plan failed to protect its 401(k) plan participants despite allegedly knowing that the company’s stock was artificially inflated after determining that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege facts in support of their claims (Ann Dormani, et al. v. Target Corp., et al., No. 17-4049, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100391).

  • June 20, 2018

    En Banc Rehearing Denied By 6th Circuit In ERISA Lump-Sum Pension Payment Dispute

    CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 18 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by former employees of Norton Healthcare Inc. challenging lump-sum pension payments after an appellate panel on May 10 vacated a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the retirees (Elizabeth A. Clemons, et al. v. Norton Healthcare Inc Retirement Plan, Nos. 16-5063, -5124, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16428).

  • June 20, 2018

    North Carolina Federal Judge Denies Jury Trial In Duke ERISA Row

    GREENSBORO, N.C. — A class action asserting that Duke University’s retirement plan charged excessive fees and included imprudent investment funds in its plan lineup in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act will not be tried to a jury, a North Carolina federal judge ruled June 11 (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C.).

  • June 20, 2018

    Patient’s HIPAA Claim Over Lab’s Privacy Failure Dismissed By Federal Judge

    WASHINGTON D.C. — Because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not provide for a private cause of action, a District of Columbia federal judge on June 15 granted a diagnostic laboratory’s motion to dismiss a complaint alleging that the lab violated the act by not furnishing patients with ample privacy while obtaining their personal health information (PHI) (Hope Lee-Thomas v. Laboratory Corporation of America, No. 1:18-cv-00591, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100428).

  • June 18, 2018

    Facebook Instant Messages Deemed Discoverable In Anthem ERISA Class Action

    INDIANAPOLIS — In light of a defendant’s showing of relevance and the plaintiffs’ failure to establish privilege, an Indiana federal magistrate judge on June 14 concluded that a Facebook instant message string between two named plaintiffs was not covered by a protective order in a putative class action over pension plan administrative fees, leading him to mostly grant a motion to compel (Mary Bell, et al. v. Pension Committee of ATH Holding Company LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-02062, S.D. Ind.).

  • June 18, 2018

    Disability Benefits Suit Remanded For Determination On Equitable Remedy

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 15 remanded a disability benefits dispute to the district court to determine whether the claimant is entitled to equitable relief based on the disability plan’s failure to properly offset the claimant’s disability benefits (Petar Mrkonjic v. Delta Family-Care and Survivorship Plan, et al., Nos. 16-56335, No. 16-56487, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16162).

  • June 18, 2018

    Panel Reverses Ruling, Says Beneficiary Denied A Full And Fair Review Under ERISA

    NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 14 determined that a life insurer abused its discretion in denying a beneficiary’s claim for life insurance benefits because the beneficiary was denied a full and fair review under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the denial is not supported by substantial evidence that the life insurance policy’s intoxication exclusion applied to the claim (Esther Hill White v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 17-30356, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15897).

  • June 18, 2018

    Supreme Court Won’t Review ERISA Ruling Allowing Insured To Sue Hospital

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 18 declined to review a ruling by Oklahoma’s top court finding an insured’s class action challenging a health care provider’s billing practices outside of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s preemptive powers (INTEGRIS Health Inc. v. Elizabeth Cates, et al., No. 17-1501, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 18, 2018

    7th Circuit Affirms: Daughter Not Entitled To Mother’s Pension

    CHICAGO — A denial of pension benefits sought by the daughter of a plan participant who died three days after retirement and three days before the start of her pension was neither arbitrary nor capricious, a unanimous Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 13 (Estate of Linda Faye Jones, et al. v. Children’s Hospital and Health System Inc. Pension Plan, No. 17-3524, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15845).

  • June 14, 2018

    11th Circuit Affirms Ruling, Prejudgment Interest In Favor Of ESOP Participants

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 affirmed a federal court’s grant of judgment and award of prejudgment interest in favor of participants in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), finding that the refusal of the plan administrator to honor the participants’ elections to diversify was both arbitrary and capricious (Dave Bryant, et al. v. Community Bankshares Inc., et al., No. 17-15360, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15737).

  • June 13, 2018

    Judgment Entered Against Foot Locker In Pension Plan Dispute; Counsel Awarded $95M

    NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on June 8 entered an order of final judgment in favor of plaintiffs who claimed that Foot Locker Inc. violated the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act by failing to properly provide retirement plan participants with notices about changes to the plan and found that class counsel was entitled to $95 million in attorney fees (Geoffrey Osberg, et al. v. Foot Locker Inc., No. 07 CV 1358, S.D. N.Y.).

  • June 13, 2018

    D.C. Judge Rules Against Delta Pilots, Says Trustee Not Arbitrary, Capricious

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Allegations by a putative class of approximately 1,700 former Delta Air Lines Inc. pilots that final benefits determinations made under their retirement plan violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act were rejected June 11 by a District of Columbia federal judge, who found instead that a trustee for the plan was neither arbitrary nor capricious (K. Wendell Lewis, et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, No. 15-1328, D. D.C.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97210).

  • June 12, 2018

    Widow Refutes United States’ Request To Deny Her Appeal Of ERISA Benefits Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A petitioner on June 1 responded to the government’s amicus curiae brief opining that the U.S. Supreme Court should deny her request seeking a determination of which section of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act a claim for breach of fiduciary duty may be filed under, contending that if the high court denies review, plan participants who live and work within the boundaries of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals “face an indefensible pleading standard that robs them of an important statutory cause of action and stands at odds with the rest of the country” (Jennifer Strang v. Ford Motor Company General Retirement Plan, et al., No. 17-528, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 12, 2018

    Majority: CBAs Unambiguously Do Not Provide For Lifetime Retiree Health Care Benefits

    CINCINNATI — A majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 8 reversed a lower court’s finding that plaintiffs satisfied their burden of proving that Honeywell International Inc. agreed to provide lifetime health care benefits to retirees from its Greenville, Ohio, plant, concluding that a series of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) unambiguously do not provide for lifetime retiree health care benefits and the lower court erred in permanently enjoining the company from dropping the benefits for those who retired from the plant before June 1, 2012, and their eligible spouses and dependents (Barbara Fletcher, et al. v. Honeywell International, Inc., No. 17-3277, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15469).

  • June 12, 2018

    Appellees Say Dismissal Of Class Claims Over PBM’s Pricing Should Be Affirmed

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge correctly dismissed Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims against the largest pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and a health insurance provider over prescription pricing because the plaintiffs failed to prove that the health insurance provider and the PBM owed any fiduciary duty to the plaintiffs, the appellees maintain in two separate briefs filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 30 (In re Express Scripts/Anthem ERISA Litigation, No. 18-346, 2nd Cir.)

  • June 12, 2018

    Health Plan Provider Says Treatment Services Were Properly Terminated

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should affirm a district court’s decision in favor of a health insurance plan that refused to reimburse a plan participant for residential treatment services for schizoaffective disorder because the evidence shows that the treatment was not medically necessary, the plan argues in a May 16 brief (Jane Doe v. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc. et al., No. 17-2078, 1st Cir.).