ST. LOUIS — A Missouri federal judge on June 5 entered final judgment and approved a class settlement agreement in a dispute over whether three defined pension benefit plans qualify as exempt “church plans” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Lisa Feather, et al. v. SSM Health, et al., No. 16-1669, E.D. Mo.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 granted certiorari in a case that poses the question of whether the three-year statute of limitations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act can be avoided by demonstrating an absence of “actual knowledge” that a breach of fiduciary duty has occurred (Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, et al. v. Christopher Sulyma, et al., No. 18-1116, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO — A district court did not err in finding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts a disability claimant’s state law claims and that the claimant’s complaint is barred by the disability plan’s three-year suit limitation, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 7 (Teresa Di Joseph v. Standard Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-2178, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17127).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 30 petition for writ of certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, UnitedHealth Group Inc. urges the high court to review the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision that the company’s practice of cross-plan offsetting is not authorized by its plan documents and is in tension with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the appeals court’s decision is in conflict with other circuits and with the high court's precedents (UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., v. Louis J. Peterson D.C., et al., No. 18-1498, U.S. Sup.).
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge in Utah on June 4 affirmed complete denial of coverage for treatment at one mental health treatment facility under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, but found treatment at a second medically necessary for longer than the insurer allowed (Mike G., et al. v. BlueCross BlueShield of Texas, No. 17-347, D. Utah., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94291).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — An unopposed motion for final approval of a $10.6 million Employee Retirement Income Security Act settlement was submitted to U.S. Judge Catherine C. Eagles of the Middle District of North Carolina on June 4, bringing a dispute over the Duke University 403(b) retirement plan one step closer to resolution (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044; Kathi Lucas, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 18-722, M.D. N.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 5 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a pension plan administrator did not abuse its discretion in terminating a plan participant’s pension benefits because the plan administrator was not “shackled” to its original interpretation of the plan (Robert Meakin v. California Field Ironworkers Pension Trust et al., No. 18-15216, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16941).
ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 4 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a plan participant’s complaint, agreeing with the district court that the plan participant’s breach of prudence allegation against a company’s retirement plan is foreclosed by U.S. Supreme Court precedent (Alexander Y. Usenko v. SunEdison Semiconductor LLC, et al., No. 18-1626, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16782).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A putative class action was filed May 31 against Duke Energy Corp. under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Tennessee Human Rights Act, alleging that the company wrongfully denied accrued sick leave and short-term disability for its welfare benefit plan participants who were older than 40 (Darrell Pridy, et al. v. Duke Energy Corporation, No. 19-00468, M.D. Tenn.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A pension trust established in the 1940s was created to provide benefits for certain duPont family domestic employees and is a plan defined in and covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a Delaware federal judge ruled May 31 (Helena duPont Wright, et al. v. Elton Corporation, et al. v. James B. Wyeth, et al., No. 17-286, D. Del., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92011).
SEATTLE — A district court did not err in entering judgment in favor of a disability insurer because the insurer’s termination of benefits is supported by sufficient evidence, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 31 (Todd J. Mickel v. Unum Group, dba Paul Revere Life Insurance Co., No. 18-35178, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16354).
SAN FRANCISCO — Three proposed classes in a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) case challenging insurance coverage for lactation specialists are overly broad, and while Employee Retirement Income Security Act allegations are less problematic, they too are overly broad and do not make clear the relief that could be granted, a federal judge in California said May 23 in denying class certification (Rachel Condry, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 17-183, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 3 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a participant in an employee equity growth plan (EGP) seeking a ruling on the appropriate test to determine whether the plan was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Jim Miller v. Eric Olsen, et al., No. 18-1364, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — States lack standing to challenge a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) rule expanding association health plans, and in any case, a judge erred in finding the rule did “violence” to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) definition of an employer, the Department of Labor tells the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an opening brief May 31 (New York, et al. v. U.S. Department of Labor, et al., No. 19-5125, D.C. Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — On May 30 the University of Pennsylvania urged the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear, as an original panel or en banc, a dispute over whether it breached its fiduciary duty to participants in a 403(b) plan (Jennifer Sweda, et al. v. University of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 17-3244, 3rd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A pension plan, the pension committee and a broadcasting company on May 29 asked a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its holding that a trial court erred in denying the surviving domestic partner of a benefit plan participant spousal benefits after the plan participant died (David R. Reed v. KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan, et al., No. 17-17176, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 3 granted a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by the Retirement Plans Committee of IBM and members of senior leadership seeking a ruling on whether the “more harm than good” pleading standard in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 573 U.S. 409 (2014), can be satisfied by general allegations of harm (Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al. v. Larry W. Jander, et al., No. 18-1165, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of law professors told the U.S. Supreme Court on May 29 that they should grant a petition for certiorari in a case alleging breach of fiduciary duty “to correct the fundamental error of lower courts upholding” forum selection clauses under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act “against participants and beneficiaries” (Jeffrey A. Robertson v. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 18-1341, U.S. Sup.).
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A man bringing wrongful death claims against an insurance company under Alabama law, deemed to be defensively preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by a trial court, should have been permitted to amend his complaint, a split Alabama Supreme Court ruled May 24, reversing the trial court’s judgment (Douglas Ghee, et al. v. USAble Mutual Insurance Company, No. 1170249, Ala. Sup., 2019 Ala. LEXIS 50).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on May 29 denied a motion to file an amended complaint by participants in two Georgetown University retirement plans who allege that Georgetown University imprudently selected and retained certain investment options because the motion was not timely filed as required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Darrell Wilcox and Michael McGuire v. Georgetown University, No. 18-422, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89557).