NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 22 reversed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer was entitled to offset a claimant’s benefits based on the claimant’s settlement of his personal injury claim after determining that New York law bars the disability insurer from offsetting benefits when a claim for personal injuries is settled (Salvatore Arnone v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 15-2322, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11055).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on June 21 dismissed an Employee Retirement Income Security Act putative class action that alleged that a record keeper’s advice arrangement constituted a breach of fiduciary duty resulting in excessive fees, saying that the plaintiff failed to allege facts showing that the defendants were ERISA fiduciaries with respect to their fees (Lisa Patrico v. Voya Financial Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-7070, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95735).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on June 19 dismissed the remaining claims in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action, saying that the plaintiffs have failed to show that the defendants breached their duties of loyalty and prudence and failed to make a prima facie showing of loss (John Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-13825, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93654).
OKLAHOMA CITY — On remand, a trial court must consider whether a woman’s class action claiming that a hospital improperly sought collection from her in violation of its contract with her insurer invokes an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan or whether the plan is merely part of the “factual backdrop” of the case, a divided Oklahoma Supreme Court held June 21 (Elizabeth Cates v. INTEGRIS Health Inc., No. 114314, Okla. Sup., 2017 Okla. LEXIS 53).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on June 19 granted Fidelity Management Trust Co.’s motion for summary judgment in a class action alleging that Fidelity breached its fiduciary duties pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by mismanaging the Fidelity Group Employee Benefit Plan Managed Income Portfolio Comingled Pool (MIP), saying the plaintiffs did not carry their burden to establish a fiduciary breach (John Ellis, et al. v. Fidelity Management Trust Co., No 1:15-14128, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93656).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on June 15 granted class certification to a group of plaintiffs seeking reprocessing of mental health insurance claims after their insurer allegedly imposed overly strict definitions of medically necessary care in contravention of the plans’ terms (Charles Des Roches, et al. v. California Physicians’ Service, et al., No. 16-2848, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92573).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 19 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari to review a judgment of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a pension fund had no standing to assert breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against its investment adviser for continuing to recommend investment in a Ponzi scheme when the adviser had privately expressed significant doubts about the continued prudence of that investment vehicle (Trustees of the Upstate New York Engineers Pension Fund v. Ivy Asset Management, et al., No. 16-1377, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 14 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating a claimant’s long-term disability benefits because there is substantial evidence supporting the insurer’s termination of benefits (Lashondra Davis v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-10895, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10576).
PHILADELPHIA — A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 15 affirmed summary judgment for Johnson Controls Inc. in an Employee Income Retirement Act lawsuit, saying that language in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and insurance booklets indicates that the company never intended for retirees’ health insurance benefits to vest (William Grove Sr., et al. v. Johnson Controls Inc., et al., No. 16-2178, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10615).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — AARP and the AARP Foundation on June 15 filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the high court to review an “errant” Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that no damages beyond lost wages are available in retaliation cases under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), saying the appeals panel’s reasoning runs counter to the underlying logic of many of the high court’s opinions (Susan L. Vaughan v. Anderson Regional Medical Center, No. 16-1386, U.S. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 13 affirmed the grant of summary judgment to defendants in a case where a plaintiff sued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act seeking additional reimbursement for a series of steroid knee injections that an orthopedic surgeon administered to his spouse, finding no abuse of discretion in the defendants’ decision to not provide additional insurance coverage and no error in the trial court’s refusal to consider information that the plaintiff failed to provide during the administrative appeals process (Monte Hooper, et al. v. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-2157, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10482).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 affirmed a district court’s ruling that the termination of a disability claim was reasonable based on the plan’s mental health coverage limitation and the medical evidence considered by the disability insurer (Kathee A. Colman v. American International Group Inc. Group Benefit Plan, et al., No. 15-15903, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10394).
DALLAS — A hospital group’s state law claims challenge the rate an insurer paid and do not involve a dispute over the right to compensation, providing an independent duty and escaping ERISA preemption, a federal judge in Texas held June 9 (Kindred Hospitals Limited Partnership d/b/a Kindred Hospital Houston Medical Center, et al. v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-3379, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89285).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 5 affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a financial company in an action for breach of fiduciary duty brought by an employee stock ownership plan and trust alleging that the financial company’s failure to prepare certain financial documents prevented the transfer of ownership of a holding company to the trust. The Circuit Court agreed with the lower court that there was insufficient evidence that a breach, if it occurred, prevented the transaction (Pioneer Centres Holding Co. ESOP & Trust v. Alerus Fin., N.A., No. 15-1227, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9940).
MIAMI — Plaintiffs in a class action against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. on June 8 filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a $25 million settlement of a 401(k) lawsuit alleging that Merrill Lynch breached its fiduciary duties by failing to ensure that small retirement plan clients received mutual fund sales discounts (Benjamin Fernandez, et al. v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., No. 1:15-cv-22782, S.D. Fla.).
Three class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty were filed recently against university retirement plans that claim that the plan administrators caused plan participants and beneficiaries to pay excessive and unreasonable fees (Winifred J. Daugherty, et al. v. The University of Chicago, No. 1:17-cv-03736, N.D. Ill.; Latasha Davis, et al. v. Washington University in St. Louis, No. 4:17-cv-01641, E.D. Mo.; Elysee Nicolas, et al. v. The Trustees of Princeton University, No. 2:17-cv-3695, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a June 5 brief, respondents contend that the U.S. Supreme Court should deny a petition for writ of certiorari asking the high court to determine whether a state law age discrimination claim relating to employee benefits that is untimely under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, saying a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision is entirely consistent with Supreme Court precedent and all other lower court decisions on ERISA preemption and presents no important issue of federal law (John Loffredo, et al. v. Daimler AG, et al., No. 16-1334, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1990).
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota federal judge on June 8 denied Wells Fargo Bank’s motion to reconsider his March order that a 2013 verdict did not have a preclusive effect on nonjury claims brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because its counsel failed to timely raise the issue (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 11-2529, D. Minn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89240).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 30 affirmed an Ohio federal judge’s order remanding an arbitration award for clarification in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act action brought by a union seeking the establishment of a welfare and pension trust fund for its members from their employer because the wording of the award is unclear (Local 1982, International Longshoremen’s Association v. Midwest Terminals of Toledo International Inc., No. 16-4004, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9848).
PHILADELPHIA — A disability insurer was entitled to offset a disability claimant’s long-term disability benefits against income the claimant earned by working part time for her medical practice because the claimant still received the benefit of her earnings even though the earnings were applied against debt she owed her medical practice, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 7 (Amy Patrick, M.D. v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 16-3980, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10105).