NEWARK, N.J. — Plaintiffs have not alleged an alternative action Johnson & Johnson could have taken in regard to disclosing the potential contamination of its talc with asbestos that would not have resulted in more harm than good to its stock price, but the plaintiffs may amend their Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action to correct the deficiency, a federal judge in New Jersey said April 29 (Michael Perrone, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 19-923, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74962).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 27 refused to review a court’s partial denial of class certification for participants in BlackRock Inc.’s 401(k) plan over allegations that the plan’s investor improperly favored its own proprietary funds when selecting investment options in violation of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Charles Baird, et al. v. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., et al., No. 20-80044, 9th Cir.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 27 granted a motion to dismiss in a breach of fiduciary suit arising out of the funding of a pension plan following a company’s corporate restructuring but determined that plaintiffs must be granted leave to amend their breach of fiduciary claims because amendment would not be futile (Krishnan R. Thondukolam, et al. v. Corteva Inc., et al., No. 19-3857, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73845).
CHICAGO — Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent denial of certiorari in a case involving the pleading standard for breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a group of participants in two Northwestern University retirement plans in an April 22 petition urge the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear its own recent dismissal of fiduciary breach allegations against the school (Laura L. Divane, et al. v. Northwestern University, et al., No. 18-2569, 7th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 13 rescheduled oral arguments until the October term in a dispute pertaining to whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts an Arkansas law regulating the administration of prescription drug benefits (Leslie Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, U.S. Sup.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma federal judge on April 22 lifted a stay, entered in January, in a dispute over a state law regulating the administration of pharmacy benefits after the plaintiffs notified the court that they did not object to lifting the stay (Pharmaceutical Care Management Association v. Glen Mulready, et al., No. 19-977, W.D. Okla.).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on April 16 denied a motion to dismiss claims alleging that a company profit-sharing plan and its trustees breached their duty of prudence and duty to monitor the company’s profit-sharing plan after determining that the plaintiff alleged sufficient facts in support of the claim for breach of the duty of prudence (Paul Toomey, et al., v. DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., No. 19-11633, D. Mass.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 22 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that a second-tier excess insurer under a 2006 tower of insurance has a duty to defend claims that a defense contractor insured breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), finding that each of the wrongful acts alleged in one class action related “both causally and logically” to the wrongful acts asserted in a class action that was filed 10 years prior (Northrop Grumman Corporation v. Axis Reinsurance Company, et al., No. 19-1949, 3rd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 12903).
BOSTON — Participants in a 401(k) plan on April 17 sought preliminary approval by a Massachusetts federal court of a $12.5 million class settlement with the plan’s trustee in their Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute over the trustee’s administration and management (John Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments, LLC, et al., No. 15-13825, D. Mass.).
ATLANTA — Participants in the Emory University Retirement Plan and Emory University announced April 16 that a settlement has been reached on allegations that the plan is mismanaged; one day later, a Georgia federal judge granted a joint request for “additional time to finalize the terms” of the agreement (Geneva Henderson, et al. v. Emory University, et al., No. 1:16-cv-2920, N.D. Ga.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 granted a request by the solicitor general for divided arguments in a pair of cases involving whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permit expanded religious and moral exemptions to the contraceptive mandate. Originally scheduled for late April, oral arguments were postponed due to the coronavirus, and the cases are now set for telephonic arguments on May 6 (Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, et al., Donald J. Trump, et al. v. Pennsylvania, Nos. 19-431, 19-454, U.S. Sup.).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — An insurer on April 15 appealed a decision by a federal judge in North Carolina finding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act did not preempt a dispute over reimbursement because neither party enjoyed standing under the law and that a private contract with the provider did not give rise to federal officer removal simply because some beneficiaries were federal employees or covered by Medicare (LifeBrite Hospital Group of Stokes LLC v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, No. 18-293, M.D. N.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The termination of pension disability benefits was not an abuse of discretion because the disability claimant failed to provide the plan administrator with the requested medical records needed to review the disability claim, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal said April 15 (Vanmark Strickland v. AT&T Pension Benefit Plan, No. 18-15336, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 11897).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A New York federal magistrate judge on April 14 granted preliminary approval of an almost $21 million settlement in a class action suit alleging that an employer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by engaging in self-dealing in its administration of a 401(k) retirement plan (In re M&T Bank Corporation ERISA Litigation, No. 16-375, W.D. N.Y.).
TRENTON, N.J. — In a joint status report filed April 14 with a New Jersey federal magistrate judge, a participant in two retirement plans offered by Princeton University and the university announced that a settlement has been reached on allegations of plan mismanagement in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Elysee Nicolas, et al. v. The Trustees of Princeton University, No. 17-3695, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 7 referred to a merits panel an April 6 request by myriad higher education groups to file an amicus brief in support of New York University (NYU) in a dispute over the school’s 403(b) employee benefit plan (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 18-2707, 2nd Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma federal judge on April 8 ordered expedited briefing on whether he should lift a stay, entered in January 2020, in a dispute over a state law regulating the administration of pharmacy benefits, citing the “apparent urgent nature” of issues outlined by Oklahoma officials one day earlier (Pharmaceutical Care Management Association v. Glen Mulready, et al., No. 19-977, W.D. Okla.).
NEW YORK — A class of participants in JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A.’s 401(k) plan have agreed in principle to settle their lawsuit against the trustee of the plan and related entities over allegedly excessive fees for certain options, according to a New York federal judge’s April 7 endorsed memorandum (Terre Beach, et al. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, et al., No. 17-563, S.D. N.Y.).
CHICAGO — Medical providers misconstrue insurers’ arguments in seeking reconsideration of an order finding derivative standing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and have not shown that Texas law would provide them with damages, a federal judge in Illinois said April 6 (Emerus Hospital, et al. v. Health Care Service Corp., et al., No. 13-8906, N.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60269).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on April 8 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer properly denied a claimant long-term disability (LTD) benefits under the plan’s any-occupation standard because the lower court did not commit any clear error in reaching its decision (Dave Nagy v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-16095, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 11055).