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Mealey's ERISA

  • March 11, 2019

    Plan Participants: Judgment Should Be Denied To Adviser In Fiduciary Duty Case

    NEW YORK — In their breach of fiduciary lawsuit, participants of Cornell University’s retirement plans argue in a Feb. 25 brief that a New York federal court should deny summary judgment to a financial adviser, saying the adviser’s advice to Cornell “was too little, too late” (Casey Cunningham, et al. v. Cornell University, et al., No. 16-6525, S.D. N.Y.).

  • March 11, 2019

    Majority Refuses To Reconsider Whether Actions Constitute Fiduciary Breach

    SAN FRANCISCO — A majority of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 13 refused to revisit its ruling that a defendant was acting as an employer and not a trustee when he retaliated against an internal auditor and, therefore, he did not violate Section 404 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1104 (R. Alexander Acosta v. Scott Brain, et al., Nos. 16-56529 and 16-56532, 9th Cir.).

  • March 11, 2019

    AARP Weighs In On Classification Of Agents As Independent Contractors

    CINCINNATI — In a March 6 amicus curiae brief, AARP told the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that it should grant a Feb. 26 petition for en banc rehearing filed by an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plaintiff class in a dispute over classification by American Family Insurance Co. of its insurance agents as independent contractors (Walid Jammal, et al. v. American Family Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-4125, 6th Cir.).

  • March 8, 2019

    Health Insurer Says Stay Of Mandate Is Warranted To Allow Appeal To High Court

    ST. LOUIS — UnitedHealth Group Inc. on March 5 filed a petition for a stay of mandate in the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a stay of the court’s offsetting decision is warranted to allow it to file a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court because there is a reasonable probability that the high court will grant certiorari, the petition will raise a substantial question regarding the practice of cross-plan offsetting and United will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted (Louis J. Peterson D.C., et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 17-1744, 8th Cir.).

  • March 7, 2019

    Panel Majority Says Arbitrator Exceeded Scope Of Authority In Retiree Benefits Dispute

    CINCINNATI — The majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on March 5 reversed a district court’s ruling affirming an arbitrator’s award in a dispute over lifetime retirement health care benefits after determining that the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his authority and failed to properly apply the clear language of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) at issue (International Union, et al. v. TRW Automotive U.S. LLC, No. 18-01160; TRW Automotive U.S. LLC v. International Union, et al., No. 18-1161, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6598).

  • March 6, 2019

    Health Insurer Violated Standard Of Care, Judge Says In ERISA Case

    SAN FRANCISCO — An insurer’s denial of coverage for intensive residential health care and substance abuse treatments violated generally accepted standards of care, a federal magistrate judge in California held March 5 in a pair of Employee Retirement Income Security Act class actions (David and Natasha Wit, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-02346, Gary Alexander, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-5337, N.D. Calif.).

  • March 6, 2019

    Claim Alleging Excessive Recordkeeping Fees Cannot Stand, Federal Judge Says

    DENVER — A Colorado federal judge on March 1 partially granted a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit accusing Oracle Corp. of making imprudent investments and allowing the collection of excessive fees related to its 401(k) plan after determining that the plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence that the plan could have paid less for recordkeeping services than it did (Deborah Troudt, et al. v. Oracle Corporation, et al., No. 16-175, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33017).

  • March 6, 2019

    9th Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Class Action Over Disney Fund Investment Option

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 1 affirmed a federal court’s dismissal of a putative Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action filed by participants in the Walt Disney Co. retirement plan over a plan investment option, finding that the investment and concentration in pharmaceuticals was “facially consistent” with the retirement plan documents (Jack Wilson, et al. v. Fidelity Management Trust Company, et al., No. 17-55726, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6384).

  • March 5, 2019

    PCMA Asks High Court To Deny Arkansas’ Petition Seeking Review Of ERISA Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) on Feb. 28 filed its opposition challenging Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's petition seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that a state law regulating drug reimbursement rates for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Leslie Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 4, 2019

    MIT Successfully Strikes Jury Demand By ERISA Class Plaintiffs

    BOSTON — A class action that asserts that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act will be decided by a judge, not a jury, a Massachusetts federal magistrate judge ruled Feb. 28 (David Tracey et al. v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology et al., No. 16-11620, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32235).

  • March 1, 2019

    Intel Seeks High Court Review Of Ruling As To ‘Actual Knowledge’ In ERISA Suit

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Intel Corp. on Feb. 26 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that reversed the entry of summary judgment in a case filed by a former employee and participant in its retirement plans over allegations that it invested retirement funds in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, contending that the lower court’s “constricted reading of ‘actual knowledge’ will undermine the balance that ERISA’s carefully crafted disclosure framework seeks to achieve” (Christopher Sulyma, et al. v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, et al., No. 17-15864, U.S. Sup.)

  • March 1, 2019

    Disability Claimant Is Not Entitled To Benefits Under Any-Occupation Standard

    PHILADELPHIA — A district court did not err in finding that a disability claimant is not entitled to long-term disability (LTD) benefits under a plan’s any-occupation standard because the medical evidence supports the plan’s determination that the claimant was capable of performing full-time sedentary work, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Feb. 28 (Thomas P. Kelly Jr. v. The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-1162, 3rd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6199).

  • February 28, 2019

    Retirement Plan Participant Asserts Kickback Scheme Related To Plan Investments

    BOSTON — A participant in a retirement savings plan filed a class action complaint in a federal district court on Feb. 21 alleging that the plan’s service provider received kickback payments in connection with plan investments in violation of the prohibited transaction rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and ERISA’s fiduciary rule (Andre W. Wong, et al. v. FMR LLC, et al., No. 19-10335, D Mass.).

  • February 28, 2019

    Newly Added Defendants In ERISA Fiduciary Breach Suit Must Be Dismissed

    LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Feb. 25 refused to reconsider a previous ruling allowing plaintiffs’ claims for breach of fiduciary duty and injunctive relief in a class action lawsuit against AT&T to proceed; however, the judge said the plaintiffs cannot add new individual defendants to a third amended complaint because the plaintiffs failed to allege any facts to support their contention that the newly added individual defendants breached any fiduciary duty in managing AT&T’s retirement plan (Julio C. Alas, et al. v. AT&T, Inc., et al., No. 17-08106, C.D. Calif.).

  • February 28, 2019

    Deadline Set For Approval Of Settlement In Vanderbilt Retirement Plan Dispute

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge on Feb. 25 granted parties’ request to set an April 22 deadline for the filing of a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement in a 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.).

  • February 27, 2019

    Termination Of LTD Benefits Supported By Substantial Evidence, Panel Determines

    ST. LOUIS — A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating a claimant’s long-term disability benefits because the insurer’s termination was supported by substantial evidence that the claimant may have been attempting to appear more cognitively impaired than he actually was during the medical examinations ordered by the insurer, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Feb. 25 (John Johnston v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 17-3415, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 5407).

  • February 25, 2019

    U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal On ERISA Equitable Relief

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 25 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by bank employees and plan participants seeking review of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision and asking for a ruling on the standard for deciding what equitable relief is “appropriate” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (William L. Pender, et al. v. Bank of America Corp., et al., No. 18-578, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 25, 2019

    Panel Affirms Refusal To Cover Costs Of Mental Health Treatment

    SAN FRANCISCO — In a Feb. 20 unpublished ruling, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment in favor of a defendant insurer of an ERISA-regulated welfare benefits plan accused of improperly denying coverage for a 12-month, in-patient residential treatment facility stay (John Potter v. Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company, Nos. 17-56018, 17-56020, 17-56023, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4914).

  • February 22, 2019

    1st Circuit Affirms Ruling In Favor Of Disability Plan In ERISA Dispute

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 affirmed a federal district court's ruling in favor of a disability plan, rejecting a claimant’s contention that the plan was not prejudiced by a 47-day delay in the filing of her appeal (Theresa Fortier v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, No. 18-1752, 1st Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4917).

  • February 20, 2019

    Split 6th Circuit: Hoover Retirees’ Health Benefits Aren’t Unalterable

    CINCINNATI — A trial court erred when it ruled that lifetime health care benefits promised to Hoover Co. retirees in multiple collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) were unalterable as the obligation ended when the last CBA ended, a divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 15 (Joseph Zino, et al. v. Whirlpool Corp., et al., Nos. 17-3851/3860, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4648).