Mealey's ERISA

  • October 21, 2021

    Class Suit Filed Against TIAA Alleges Scheme, ERISA Fiduciary Violations

    NEW YORK — Three retirement plan participants who opened TIAA Portfolio Advisor accounts between 2013 and 2018 filed a putative class suit in a New York federal court on Oct. 11, claiming violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and alleging “dishonest actions to benefit itself at participants’ expense.”

  • October 21, 2021

    Judge Awards Class Counsel A 3rd Of Columbia’s $13M ERISA Funds, Fees Settlement

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Oct. 13 granted final approval to a $13 million class action settlement between Columbia University trustees and participants in two 403(b) plans over allegations that the trustees breached the fiduciary duty of prudence by incurring excessive administrative fees and by selecting and retaining underperforming investment options; on Oct. 18, the judge granted an award of $4,333,333.33 for attorney fees from the settlement fund.

  • October 21, 2021

    ‘Reasonable’ Element Of ERISA Estoppel Claim Not Met, 5th Circuit Affirms

    NEW ORLEANS — An estoppel claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act fails because it did not create a genuine dispute of material fact that it was reasonable to rely on an employer’s representations and paycheck deductions rather than the unambiguous language of a group supplemental life insurance plan, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 19, upholding a Texas federal court’s grant of summary judgment in the employer’s favor.

  • October 20, 2021

    Retirement Funding Dispute Class Settlement Granted Preliminary OK On 3rd Try

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Following two denials, a California federal judge on Oct. 19 granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement in a long-running class suit over funding and management of a retirement plan sponsored by Dignity Health, ruling that previous concerns about intraclass conflict were addressed by subclass certification.

  • October 20, 2021

    Separation Agreement’s Release Bars Derivative ERISA 401(k) Challenge, Judge Rules

    ATLANTA — A separation agreement bars a derivative action alleging breach of fiduciary duty in regard to a retirement plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a Georgia federal judge ruled on Oct. 15, dismissing the suit upon finding that “even if the Plaintiff did not actually waive the Plan’s ERISA claims, he nonetheless gave up his ability to bring those claims on behalf of the Plan.”

  • October 19, 2021

    Lobbying Group Seeks High Court Review Of CalSavers No ERISA Preemption Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A taxpayer lobbying group on Oct. 12 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari on the recent Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the state-run IRA program California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (CalSavers) is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, saying that it is “a case of first impression;” on Oct. 18, the respondents waived their right to respond.

  • October 19, 2021

    $1.7M Settlement Gets Final Approval In Parity Suit Over Therapy For Autism

    SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on Oct. 8 granted final approval to an agreement settling allegations that a health plan violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) by excluding coverage for two specific types of therapy for autism spectrum disorder (ASD); the agreement includes prospective coverage of the therapies and up to $1.7 million for retrospective claims for unreimbursed therapy costs.

  • October 18, 2021

    In Florida Class Action, Aetna Bid To Dismiss ERISA Claims Denied

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Allegations by two cancer patients that Aetna Life Insurance Co. violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when denying them coverage for proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT) will proceed, a federal judge in Florida ruled Oct. 13 in denying a motion to dismiss.

  • October 15, 2021

    Preliminary Approval Of Class Settlement Denied In ERISA Suit Over Surgery

    SAN FRANCISCO — Citing “such a large fee for the attorneys, little benefit to the class members, and substantial downsides to the class,” a California federal judge on Oct. 12 denied preliminary approval to a class settlement proposal in a suit challenging a health plan’s denial of coverage for a specialized form of liposuction to treat lipedema.

  • October 15, 2021

    Aon Prevails In 401(k) Suit; Class Settlement With Lowe’s Gets Final Approval

    STATESVILLE, N.C. — Following a bench trial in a class action challenging a retirement plan adviser’s actions including the move of more than $1 billion in assets to a growth fund, a federal judge in North Carolina on Oct. 12 ruled that Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting Inc. did not breach its fiduciary duty and ordered each party to bear its own costs and attorney fees with respect to those claims.

  • October 12, 2021

    2 Motions To Dismiss Denied In Class Suit Over ERISA Plan Costs, Fees

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — An employee who brought class claims accusing her former employer and the 401(k) plan committee of breaching the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when they failed to keep costs in check and negotiate lower fees as the plan grew may proceed with her case as the defendants failed to show a lack of subject matter jurisdiction or failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, a federal judge in Ohio ruled Sept. 16 in denying motions to dismiss.

  • October 11, 2021

    2 Claims Survive Summary Judgment In Class Loan Procedure Suit Under ERISA

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Sept. 30 granted summary judgment in favor of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) on one claim of nonfiduciary liability for fiduciary breach but allowed two others to proceed in a class suit filed by a pension plan participant seeking equitable relief for plan loan procedures that allegedly violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • October 11, 2021

    Federal Government Opposes Bill Of Costs After Losing ERISA Ruling In ESOP Suit

    HONOLULU, Hawaii — The U.S. secretary of labor on Oct. 8 filed an objection to a bill of costs filed by the defendants in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit over an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) after a federal judge in Hawaii determined that evidence showed that the $40 million price paid by the ESOP to the former owners of an engineering firm “did not exceed the fair market value of the Company” on the date of the sale, despite a valuation of the company two weeks later that was more than $33 million lower.

  • October 11, 2021

    ERISA Insurer Appeals Ruling Finding Residential Treatment Coverage Denial Arbitrary

    SALT LAKE CITY — An insurer on Sept. 22 filed an amended notice appealing a Utah federal judge’s opinion finding that the insurer’s improper and inconsistent grounds for denying coverage for residential treatments were arbitrary and entitled the plaintiffs to partial summary judgment on their Employee Retirement Income Security Act claim.

  • October 09, 2021

    Federal Judge Permits Partial Turnover Of 401(k) To Satisfy Terrorism Judgment

    BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on Sept. 30 partially granted a motion for turnover of a 401(k) account to satisfy a Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) judgment, finding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s anti-alienation provision does not stand in the way of access to assets the plan participant has a right to receive.

  • October 08, 2021

    Allstate Loses Bid To Dismiss ERISA Fees, Funds Claims In Suit Over 401(k) Plan

    CHICAGO — Participants in a defined contribution-retirement plan who filed a putative class suit alleging underperforming funds and excessive fees have standing and have adequately pleaded claims, including breach of the fiduciary duty of prudence, a federal judge in Illinois ruled Sept. 28, denying a motion to dismiss that raised issues including failure to plead exhaustion of administrative remedies.

  • October 07, 2021

    U.S. Secretary Of Labor Says Disability Insurer Failed To Issue Benefit Determination

    NEW YORK — A district court erred in dismissing a disability claimant’s suit alleging that a disability insurer failed to exhaust all administrative remedies in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the insurer’s decision to remand a claim to its claim department for reconsideration does not constitute a “benefit determination on review,” the U.S. Secretary of Labor says in an Oct. 5 amicus curiae brief filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the claimant’s appeal.

  • October 07, 2021

    Judge Denies Attorney Fees In 401(k) Valuation Suit, Ruling Decision ‘Close Call’

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A federal judge in Rhode Island on Oct. 5 denied a motion for attorney fees and costs by a 401(k) plan, its administrator and trustees, saying in a text order that the suit over a special valuation date (SVD) implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic “was brought and litigated in good faith, and its ultimate resolution was a close call.”

  • October 06, 2021

    5th Circuit Panel Reverses, Remands Ruling On Any-Occupation Benefits

    NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 5 reversed a district court’s ruling that a disability insurer waived its right to contest an award of disability benefits under the plan’s any-occupation standard because the insurer’s determination that the claimant’s disability was subject to a plan limitation made an analysis of whether any-occupation benefits were owed unnecessary.

  • October 05, 2021

    Judge: Dispute Remains Over Relief In Remanded Pension Plan Reformation Case

    NEW YORK — On remand of a long-running class action over reformation of a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) pension plan, a federal judge in New York on Sept. 30 granted summary judgment in plan participants’ favor on liability but denied their requested relief as to the projection rate for whipsaw calculations, concluding that a genuine dispute remains over that issue; the judge also denied PwC’s motion to decertify the class.

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