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Mealey's ERISA

  • October 19, 2018

    Federal Judge Grants Disability Insurer’s Motion For Judgment On Pleadings

    BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Oct. 16 granted a disability insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in a U.S. Army veteran’s class action alleging that the insurer wrongfully offset disability benefits payable under its policy by disability benefits received from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after determining that the remaining claims cannot stand based on the court’s prior ruling that the offset was permitted under the plan (Marco Martinez v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 16-12154, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178188).

  • October 19, 2018

    Federal Judge Adopts Plaintiffs’ Methodologies In Cigna Conversion Suit

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on Oct. 16 adopted the proposed interest rate and age assumption methodologies proposed by plaintiffs in a lawsuit regarding Cigna Corp.’s conversion from a traditional defined-benefit pension plan to a cash-balance plan after determining that the plaintiffs’ methodologies are more persuasive than Cigna’s methodologies for the purpose of calculating the net present value of the remedy award and calculating the attorney fees to which the plaintiffs may be entitled (Janice C. Amara, et al. v. Cigna Corp., et al., No. 3:01-cv-2361, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178609).

  • October 17, 2018

    1st Circuit Partly Vacates Ruling In Dispute Between Plan Participants, Trustee

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 vacated and remanded in part a federal court’s ruling in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) dispute between 401(k) plan participants and the plan trustee (John Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments LLC, et al., No. 17-1711, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28921).

  • October 17, 2018

    Treasury Department Again Ordered To Produce Documents In Terminated Pension Spat

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten months after a prior order compelling it to produce discovery was vacated by an appeals court, the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Oct. 15 was again ordered on remand to produce purportedly privileged documents in a dispute over a terminated pension plan, with a District of Columbia federal judge finding that the underlying plaintiffs sufficiently established that their need for the documents overcame the asserted presidential communications privilege (U.S. Department of the Treasury v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. Dennis Black, et al., No. 1:12-mc-00100, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173769).

  • October 15, 2018

    Interlocutory Appeal Not Warranted On Issue Of Entitlement To Jury Trial

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Oct. 11 denied a motion for certification of an interlocutory appeal in a breach of fiduciary lawsuit filed by participants of Cornell University’s retirement plans after determining that the denial of the defendants’ motion to strike a jury demand does not involve a controlling issue of law that would warrant certification of an interlocutory appeal (Casey Cunningham, et al. v. Cornell University, et al., No. 16-6525, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176160).

  • October 15, 2018

    Plan Participants Ask 8th Circuit To Reverse Dismissal Of Their ERISA Claims

    ST. LOUIS — Participants in and beneficiaries of the Wells Fargo & Co.'s 401(k) Plan on Oct. 10 appealed to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court’s ruling that dismissed their Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit alleging that Wells Fargo & Co. encouraged and caused employees to sign up customers for unauthorized and unwanted accounts and other banking products to generate inflated share price growth (Francesca Allen, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 18-2781, 8th Cir.).

  • October 11, 2018

    Majority Affirms Dismissal Of Breach Of Fiduciary Suit Brought Under ERISA

    CINCINNATI — A majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 10 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that a widow failed to adequately plead that her late husband’s former employer breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to notify him of his right to convert a group life insurance policy to an individual life insurance policy after he ended his employment and began collecting long-term disability benefits (Mead Vest v. Resolute FP US Inc., No. 18-5046, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28533).

  • October 10, 2018

    Insurers, Law Firm Settle ERISA Case Involving Asbestos Trust Fund Recoveries

    DALLAS — Health insurers and an asbestos litigation firm on Oct. 5 settled a Texas federal court case alleging that the firm withheld bankruptcy trust recoveries to which the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Medicare insurance plans were contractually entitled for costs associated with treating the firm’s plaintiffs (Humana Inc., et al. v. Shrader & Associates LLP, No. 16-354, S.D. Texas).

  • October 9, 2018

    Federal Judge Denies Motion To Reconsider Ruling As To Breach Of Fiduciary Claim

    COVINGTON, N.Y. — A Kentucky federal judge on Oct. 5 denied as premature a motion by individual former members of the committee named as an employee pension plan fiduciary to reconsider an April 4 ruling that refused to dismiss plan participants’ claim for breach of fiduciary obligations under Employee Retirement Income Security Act, noting that he has yet to decide whether ERISA governs the plan (Dolores Jane Boden, et al. v. St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Inc, et al., No. 16-49, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172246).

  • October 9, 2018

    Disability Claimant Awarded $20,000 In Attorney Fees Incurred As A Result Of Appeal

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 4 awarded a disability claimant $20,000 in attorney fees incurred in his appeal over a dispute regarding the claimant’s entitlement to own-occupation long-term disability (LTD) benefits (Dave Nagy v. Group Long Term Disability Plan for Employees of Oracle America Inc., et al., Nos. 16-16160, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28166).

  • October 9, 2018

    Breach Of Fiduciary Claim Survives Only As It Pertains To Plan Investment Committee

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Sept. 27 dismissed all but one defendant in a plaintiff’s suit alleging that a retirement plan was mismanaged after determining that the plaintiff failed to prove that all but one of the defendants are fiduciaries of the retirement plan at issue (Arthur Bekker, et al. v. Neuberger Berman Group LLC, et al., No. 16-6123, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166690).

  • October 8, 2018

    Plan Participant Met Burden Of Supporting Breach Of Fiduciary Claims, Judge Says

    NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Oct. 3 denied a motion to dismiss filed by pension benefit plan defendants after determining that the plaintiff met her burden in providing sufficient facts to support her breach of fiduciary duty claims arising out of the defendants’ alleged mismanagement of the pension plan (Heather Janda Hay v. Gucci America Inc., et al., No. 17-7148, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171193).

  • October 5, 2018

    2nd Circuit Stays Appeal Pending Decision About Removal Of Fiduciaries

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 2 held in abeyance an appeal in an ERISA case pending a ruling on a motion filed by plaintiffs in New York federal court that seeks to amend a July 31 decision to clarify if two fiduciaries are unqualified for serving on committees for retirement plans for members of faculty, research staff and school administration at New York University as a result of making imprudent investments and if the statute allows for their removal (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 18-2707, 2nd Cir.).

  • October 5, 2018

    Benefits Properly Denied Based On Disability Claimant’s Pre-Existing Condition

    DENVER — A disability insurer properly denied long-term disability (LTD) benefits based on the plan’s pre-existing condition provision because the claimant was diagnosed with a condition that caused his loss of sight three months before filing a claim for disability benefits, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Sept. 26 (Michael Green v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 17-1383, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27439).

  • October 5, 2018

    University Wins Dismissal Of Consolidated Claims Over Retirement Plan

    ST. LOUIS — Allegations by participants in a 403(b) retirement program offered by Washington University in St. Louis that plan fiduciaries violated their duties were rejected Sept. 28 by a Missouri federal judge in response to a motion to dismiss (Latasha Davis, et al. v. Washington University in St. Louis, et al., No. 17-1641, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167594).

  • October 4, 2018

    Termination Of LTD Benefits Was Reasonable Based On Surveillance Video, Panel Says

    ATLANTA — A disability insurer’s termination of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the insurer’s termination was reasonable based on surveillance video of the claimant and based on independent physician reviews it obtained, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Oct. 1 (Timothy P. O’Leary v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 17-15162, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27771).

  • October 4, 2018

    Plaintiffs: Judge Disqualified Once She Decided To Join Firm Chaired By NYU Trustee

    NEW YORK — Plaintiffs claiming that New York University made imprudent investments in retirement plans for members of faculty, research staff and school administration on Oct. 1 moved to vacate a judge’s ruling in favor of NYU and for new trial, contending that the judge was disqualified from presiding over their lawsuit once she decided to leave the federal district court and join a law firm that is chaired by a NYU trustee who has direct responsibility for monitoring the fiduciary conduct at issue (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 16- 6284, S.D. N.Y.).

  • October 3, 2018

    Panel Reverses Dismissal Of Fiduciary Breach Claim Against Disability Plan

    NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 1 reversed and remanded a district court’s dismissal of a disability plan participant’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty and for failure to provide plan documents against the disability plan after determining that the district court failed to consider the plan participant’s argument that the plan documents provided by the employer are somewhat different from the copies, provided by the plan insurer, in the administrative record (Michael N. Manuel v. Turner Industries Group LLC et al., No. 17-30835, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27810).

  • October 1, 2018

    U.S. High Court Denies Review Of ERISA, Age Bias Appeal

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 1 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a pension plan participant seeking reversal of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that an amendment to a pension plan's calculation of retirement income credits does not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's anti-cutback rule (James P. Teufel v. The Northern Trust Co., et al., No. 18-163, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 1, 2018

    U.S. Supreme Court Asks For United States’ Views In Financial Loss Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court in its Oct. 1 orders invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in an appeal by pension plan participants who unsuccessfully sued their plan manager for allegedly committing fiduciary breaches that caused $750 million in losses to the plan (James J. Thole, et al. v. U.S. Bank, N.A., et al., No. 17-1712, U.S. Sup.).