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Mealey's ERISA

  • May 1, 2019

    Respondent: ERISA Dispute Not Ripe For High Court Review

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an April 29 opposition brief, a respondent told the U.S. Supreme Court it should deny a petition for certiorari that poses the question of whether the “actual knowledge” exception to the “generally applicable” six-year statute of limitations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires both knowledge that imprudent investment occurred and knowledge, at the time, that the investment was imprudent (Christopher Sulyma, et al. v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, et al., No. 17-15864, U.S. Sup.).

  • May 1, 2019

    Panel: ERISA-Governed Life Insurance Policies Exclude Cause Of Death

    CHICAGO — A reasonable person would interpret a man’s cause of death of autoerotic asphyxiation to be an “intentionally self-inflicted injury” under life insurance policies governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a majority of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 29, reversing a lower court (LeTran Tran v. Minnesota Life Insurance Co., No. 18-1723, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12895).

  • April 30, 2019

    Judge Says More Facts Needed On Tribe’s ERISA Claims Against Blue Cross

    BAY CITY, Mich. — A federal judge in Michigan on April 26 turned down an insurer’s request to dismiss on remand an Indian tribe’s claims that the insurer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to pay Medicare-like rates for hospital services under two health care plans, saying more factual development is needed at this stage of the litigation (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70688).

  • April 30, 2019

    Panel Affirms: Surviving Spouse Benefits Request Is Time-Barred

    CINCINNATI — In an April 25 holding, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that a plaintiff who failed to diligently pursue her claim for surviving-spouse benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is barred by the six-year statute of limitations in Tennessee for pursuing a contract claim (Joyce Ensley v. Charles Whobrey, et al., No. 18-5459, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12626).

  • April 30, 2019

    Disability, Life Insurance Plan Not Exempt From ERISA, Federal Judge Says

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A disability and life insurance plan provided to employees of a public library is not exempt under the governmental agency exception in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the library does not qualify as an agency of the government of New York City or the borough of Brooklyn, a New York federal judge said April 18 in denying the disability claimant’s motion to remand (Brian J. Skornick v. Principal Financial Group, et al., No. 18-4324, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66124).

  • April 30, 2019

    Judge Approves $9M Settlement For Prudential’s Failure To Make Lump Sum Payments

    PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 5 entered final approval of a $9 million settlement to resolve allegations that Prudential Insurance Company of America breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when failing to make lump sum payments to beneficiaries (Clark R. Huffman, et al. v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 10cv5135, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58667).

  • April 29, 2019

    Class Alleges Boeing Failed To Disclose Truth About 737’s Safety Problems

    CHICAGO — Participants in the Boeing Voluntary Investment Plan on March 31 filed a class action in a federal district court alleging that Boeing and its plan fiduciaries’ failure to publicly disclose the truth about the company’s 737 Max aircraft’s safety problems left the public unaware and led to inflation of the company’s stock price (Diane Burke, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 19-02203, N.D. Ill.).

  • April 29, 2019

    Claimant Not Disabled From Regular Occupation, 5th Circuit Panel Says

    NEW ORLEANS — A district court did not err in granting a disability insurer’s motion for summary judgment because the insurer properly denied a claim for long-term disability benefits under the policy, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 26 in noting that the claimant is not disabled from his regular occupation (Deo G. Shanker v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 18-20616, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12555).

  • April 29, 2019

    Health Aides Amend Complaint Over Captive Insurance, Reinsurance Scheme

    BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Home health aides filed a first amended class action complaint on April 24 in a New York federal court, alleging that their employers’ captive insurance and reinsurance scheme cheated them out of lost wages and benefits (Ynes M. Gonzalez de Fuente, et al. v. Preferred Home Care of New York LLC, et al., No. 18-6749, E.D. N.Y.).

  • April 26, 2019

    Termination Of LTD Benefits Reasonable Based On Evidence, Panel Says

    PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 25 affirmed a district court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of a disability insurer after determining that the insurer’s termination of long-term disability benefits was reasonable based on the evidence considered by the insurer (Kenneth Baker v. Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., No. 17-2048, 3rd Cir.; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12415).

  • April 26, 2019

    Colorado Federal Judge Limits Recovery In ERISA Case To Individual Losses

    DENVER — Allegations that an investment consultant for an employee 401(k) plan breached its duty of loyalty were partly rejected April 23 by a Colorado federal judge, who found that plaintiffs in the case may not bring direct action claims for losses to the entire plan allegedly attributable to the consultant (Lorraine M. Ramos, et al. v. Banner Health, et al., No. 15-2556, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68663).

  • April 24, 2019

    Plaintiffs Seek Approval Of $14.5M Settlement In Vanderbilt Retirement Dispute

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Plan participants on April 22 moved for preliminary approval of a $14.5 settlement of their lawsuit accusing Vanderbilt University, the oversight committee and members of the committee of mismanaging the employee retirement plan in violation of the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn.).

  • April 24, 2019

    9th Circuit Affirms: Plan Sponsor Engaged In Prohibited Self-Dealing

    SAN FRANCISCO — A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 23 upheld a California federal judge’s determination that a 401(k) plan sponsor engaged in self-dealing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and agreed that the sponsor is not entitled to a “reasonable compensation” exemption under the statute for record-keeping services (Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor v. City National Corporation, et al., No. 17-55421, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11718).

  • April 24, 2019

    Panel Denies Rehearing, Allows Ruling In Favor Of 401(k) Fund Operator To Stand

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 22 denied a retirement plan participant’s motion for rehearing or rehearing en banc, refusing to revisit its finding that a district court properly concluded that a fund operator accused of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is not a fiduciary with respect to a portfolio fund (John Teets v. Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, No. 18-1019, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12002).

  • April 23, 2019

    Supreme Court Invites Government’s Views In ERISA Causation Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its April 22 order list, the U.S. Supreme Court invited the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on a dispute between two beneficiaries and their retirement plan over the standard for establishing loss causation under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (Putnam Investments LLC, et al. v. John Brotherston, et al., No. 18-926, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 22, 2019

    Retiree Class Seeks Rehearing Of Vesting Decision By 8th Circuit

    ST. LOUIS — In an April 17 petition for rehearing en banc, a class of retirees asserts that the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently committed five errors when finding that the plaintiffs’ health benefits were not vested as a matter of law (Augustine Pacheco, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., Nos. 18-1006 and 18-1294, 8th Cir.).

  • April 18, 2019

    Pension Plan Participants Seek High Court’s Review Of Equitable Remedy Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Participants in a pension plan filed a petition for writ of certiorari on April 4 in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that review of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision on whether equitable remedies other than disgorgement might be available on the participants’ breach of fiduciary duty claim is warranted because the decision conflicts with those of other circuits and has the effect of prohibiting a participant’s right to gains earned on a terminated plan’s assets after termination (K. Wendell Lewis, et al., v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., No. 18-1279, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 18, 2019

    5th Circuit Upholds $500,000 Judgment On Retirement Funds To Decedent’s Ex-Wife

    NEW ORLEANS — A decedent’s ex-wife’s $500,000 judgment regarding 401(k) retirement funds was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 16 based upon a timely qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) issued to the ex-wife (Pam Miletello v. R M R Mechanical Inc., et al., No. 18-30942, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11120).

  • April 18, 2019

    Federal Judge Says Claims Pertaining To 2 401(k) Funds Are Barred

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on April 16 partially granted an investment adviser’s motion to dismiss a plaintiff’s claims regarding two funds included in a Safeway Inc.’s 401(k) plan because the adviser’s actions regarding those funds occurred outside of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s six-year statute of repose (Maria Karla Terraza v. Safeway Inc., et al., No. 16-3994, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65237).

  • April 17, 2019

    Contractor’s Claims Against Pension Fund Subject To Arbitration, 2nd Circuit Says

    NEW YORK — A demolition contractor’s claims against a trucking employees’ pension fund are subject to mandatory arbitration under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA), the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 16 (Gramercy Wrecking and Environmental Contractors v. Trucking Employees of North Jersey Welfare Fund Inc., No. 18-2001, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11047).