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Mealey's ERISA

  • April 17, 2019

    Magistrate Judge Denies Motions To Amend Complaints In Plan Offsetting Dispute

    MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota federal magistrate judge on April 12 denied plaintiffs’ motions to file amended complaints in a two class actions challenging UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s practice of cross-plan offsetting after determining that amending the complaints would cause undue delay and result in prejudice to UnitedHealth (Louis J. Peterson D.C., et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., Nos. 14-2101, 15-3064, D. Minn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63373).

  • April 16, 2019

    Supreme Court Won’t Hear Dispute Over Anti-Assignment Provision

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its April 15 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in a dispute between a medical provider and United Healthcare Insurance Co. over an anti-assignment provision in a group health benefit plan (W.A. Griffin v. United Healthcare of Georgia Inc. et al., No. 18-1033, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 16, 2019

    Plaintiffs Say Plan’s Use Of Outdated Mortality Table Is A Violation Of ERISA

    FORT WORTH, Texas — A motion to dismiss filed by defendants in a class action lawsuit alleging that American Airlines Inc. violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by using an outdated mortality table from 1984 to estimate the average lifespan of pension plan participants must be denied because ERISA requires the use of reasonable actuarial assumptions, the plaintiffs maintain in an April 4 opposition to the motion to dismiss filed in Texas federal court (Olga Martinez Torres, et al. v. American Airlines Inc., et al., No. 18-983, N.D. Texas).

  • April 15, 2019

    High Court Seeks Solicitor General View On ERISA Preemption Of PBM Regulations

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 15 invited the solicitor general to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in a case seeking review of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts an Arkansas law regulating drug reimbursement rates for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) (Leslie Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 15, 2019

    Disability Claimant’s Suit Is Barred By Policy’s 3-Year Limitations Provision

    NEW YORK — A district court did not err in finding that a disability claimant’s suit is barred by a disability policy’s three-year limitations provision because the limitations provision is not unreasonably short and the claimant did not file suit until more than seven years later, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 12 in affirming the lower court’s opinion (Susan Arkun v. Unum Group, et al., No. 17-3354, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10843).

  • April 12, 2019

    Disability Claimant Urges High Court To Address Issue Of Discretionary Authority

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A disability claimant urges the U.S. Supreme Court in a March 29 petition for writ of certiorari to accept review of his disability suit to resolve the question of whether a plan fiduciary with discretionary authority should be given deference over compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s claims procedures and regulations (Timothy P. O’Leary v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 18-1266, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1278).

  • April 10, 2019

    Judge Preliminarily Approves $23.6M Settlement Fund In Anthem ERISA Class Action

    INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana federal judge on April 8 granted joint motions for preliminary approval of a $23.65 million class action settlement and to certify a class in a lawsuit filed by 401(k) plan participants who allege that the retirement plan breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by providing plan participants with an imprudent investment fund and by charging plan participants excessive administrative fees (Mary Bell, et al. v. Pension Committee of ATH Holding Company LLC, et al., No. 15-02062, S.D. Ind.).

  • April 9, 2019

    8th Circuit Denies UnitedHealth’s Stay Of Mandate To Allow Appeal

    ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 15 in a one-sentence order denied a motion to stay the mandate filed by UnitedHealth Group Inc. and its subsidiaries following a ruling by the appellate panel 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 (Louis J. Peterson D.C., et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 17-1744, 8th Cir.).

  • April 9, 2019

    Substantial Evidence Supports Disability Insurer’s Termination Of Benefits

    NEW ORLEANS — A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating a claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits because substantial evidence supported the insurer’s finding that the claimant was not disabled from her own occupation as an attorney as a result of migraine headaches, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 4 (Amanda C. Foster v. Principal Life Insurance Co., No. 17-30997, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9946).

  • April 8, 2019

    6th Circuit Successor Liability Finding Was Error, Petitioners Say

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an April 2 request for certiorari, two petitioners argue that a finding by a divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of successor liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act conflicts with other circuits and runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “repeated admonition that federal courts are not to create federal common law to rewrite federal statutes” (September Ends Co., et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., No. 18-1265, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 8, 2019

    High Court Asked To Resolve Proper Pleading Standard For Fiduciary Breach Suits

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Participants in the Chevron Employee Savings Investment Plan on April 3 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a writ resolving for all federal circuit appeals courts the proper pleading standard to apply in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act fiduciary breach actions (Charles E. White, Jr., et al. v. Chevron Corporation, et al., No. 18-1271, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 8, 2019

    Health Insurer Did Not Waive Anti-Assignment Provisions, Judge Says

    NEW YORK — A health insurer did not waive its right to enforce anti-assignment provisions included in a number of its plans by making direct payments to a service provider, a New York federal judge said March 28 in granting the insurer’s motion for partial summary judgment (The Medical Society of the State of New York, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., 16-5265, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53097).

  • April 5, 2019

    Magistrate Denies Trustees’ Motion To Preclude Damages Claims In ERISA Dispute

    NEW YORK — A New York federal magistrate judge on April 1 denied Columbia University trustees’ motion to preclude certain damages claims in a lawsuit alleging that the university breached its duty of prudence to its retirement plan participants and beneficiaries by causing its retirement plans to incur excessive administrative fees and by failing to monitor the plans’ investment options (Chandra Cates, et al. v. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, et al., No. 16-06524, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55785).

  • April 5, 2019

    Plan Administrator Failed To Review All Evidence Related To Employee’s Termination

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 3 vacated and remanded a district court’s judgment in favor of separation pay plan defendants after determining that the plan administrator failed to investigate all of the evidence related to the termination of a former employee before denying the former employee’s request for severance pay benefits (David L. Boysen v. Illinois Tool Works Inc. Separation Pay Plan, et al., No. 17-13145, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9751).

  • April 5, 2019

    Denial Of Attorney Fees In Disability Suit Must Be Reversed, Panel Majority Says

    CINCINNATI — A district court erred in denying a disability claimant’s request for attorney fees because the disability insurer’s decision-making process in denying benefits was not legally supported, the majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 1 in reversing the lower court’s ruling (Kimberly J. Guest-Marcotte v. Life Insurance Company of North America, et al., No. 18-1948, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9481).

  • April 5, 2019

    Disability Claimant Entitled To Increased Monthly Benefits Under Plan, Panel Says

    DENVER — A disability insurer incorrectly classified a disability claimant’s employment position with a pharmaceutical company, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 2 after determining that the evidence supports a district court’s conclusion that the claimant’s position qualified as a sales position under the plan, entitling the claimant to an increased amount of monthly disability benefits (Lou Hodges v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 18-1279, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9601).

  • April 5, 2019

    Illinois Federal Judge OKs Amended Complaint Against Plan Fiduciary

    CHICAGO — An Employee Retirement Income Security Act plaintiff asserting violations by a plan fiduciary filed an amended complaint April 3, the same day an Illinois federal judge ruled that the proposed amendments are not futile (Michael McMaken v. GreatBanc Trust Company, No. 17-4983, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56876).

  • April 3, 2019

    Parties To Offer Additional Briefing On Standing Issue Over ERISA Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on March 29 ordered additional briefing on whether a woman has standing to bring any Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 claims based on a settlement agreement and, if so, whether she has standing to bring claims based on certain investment options a university offered to plan participants in its capacity as plan fiduciary (Melissa Stanley v. George Washington University, et al., No. 18-878, D. D.C.).

  • April 2, 2019

    Northwestern University: Claims Establish Plans Offered Wide Range Of Investments

    CHICAGO — Northwestern University Retirement Plan and the university argued to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 14 that plan participants’ own allegations establish that its retirement and voluntary savings plans offered a wide range of investment options so “participants could select the options that best fit their own tolerance for risk and fee sensitivity,” refuting the plan participants’ appeal of a lower court’s dismissal of their breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit (Laura L. Divane, et al. v. Northwestern University, et al., No. 18-2569, 7th Cir.).

  • April 2, 2019

    Purported Plaintiff Class Files Amended Complaint In New York ERISA Case

    NEW YORK — In a March 26 corrected amended complaint filed in New York federal court, two plaintiffs argue that an “unreasonable” reliance by a retirement plan on outdated mortality rates and actuarial assumptions has resulted in a reduction in the value of their vested retirement benefits (William Masten, et al., v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 18-11229, S.D. N.Y.).