BOSTON — A health insurance plan’s exclusion for custodial care unambiguously includes the wilderness therapy treatments at the heart of three plaintiffs’ ERISA suit, a federal judge in Massachusetts said Dec. 6 (David Cotton, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue Inc., et al., No. 16-12176, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205869).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge did not err in dismissing a lawsuit against New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and others because the judge properly found that the lawsuit was duplicative of an earlier filed lawsuit alleging that NYU breached its duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in its administration and management of its retirement plan, the retirement plan adviser maintains in a Dec. 4 brief filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v, New York University School of Medicine, et al., No. 18-1558, 2nd Cir.).
ST. LOUIS — A district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of a disability plan because the plan’s termination of benefits was not an abuse of discretion and was reasonable based on the medical evidence, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 6 (Gary Leirer v. The Proctor & Gamble Disability Benefit Plan, et al., No. 17-3426, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34406).
NEW YORK — A motion to vacate a district judge’s ruling in favor of New York University, alleged to have made imprudent investments in retirement plans for members of faculty, research staff and school administration, should be denied because the plaintiffs failed to meet their high burden of proving that the judge who entered the ruling was required to recuse herself based on her decision to leave the federal district court and join a law firm that is chaired by a NYU trustee, NYU argues in its Nov. 29 opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion to vacate judgment or for a new trial (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 16- 6284, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — In an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 3 that an employee needed to provide records of covered work throughout his time with a trucking company to collect benefits (Michael Babino v. Thomas Gesualdi, et al., No. 17-3444, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33860).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge’s determination that a trustee violated the whistleblower provision of Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when he placed an internal auditor on administrative leave was upheld Dec. 4 by a full panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but the court split on whether the accused actions constitute a fiduciary breach (R. Alexander Acosta v. Scott Brain, et al., Nos. 16-56529, -56532, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34072).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A class of current and former BB&T Corp. employees who participated in the company’s 401(k) plan and who claim that the company violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing the plan to pay unreasonable investment management and administrative fees, selecting and retaining underperforming investment vehicles, and engaging in prohibited transaction filed a motion in North Carolina federal court on Nov. 30, seeking preliminary approval of a $24 million settlement (Robert Sims, et al. v. BB&T Corp., No. 15-cv-732-CCE-JEP, M.D. N.C.).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 4 affirmed a lower federal court’s judgment against an appellant on his claim for dependent benefits under a life insurance policy that was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, finding that the appellant’s ex-wife ceased to be an eligible dependent as of the date of their divorce (David Glenn Morris v. Southern Intermodal Xpress, et al., No. 18-10785, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34050).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 26 vacated and remanded a district court’s ruling that a profit-sharing account issued to the president of a company is subject to garnishment under Florida law after determining that the district court failed to explain why the funds in the profit-sharing account should be considered assets of the company that are subject to garnishment (Whirlpool Corp. v. Freight Revenue Recovery of Miami Inc., No. 17-14752, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33099).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 remanded a disability claimant’s suit after determining that the district court must determine the whether the source of a claimant’s disability is physical or mental (Miae Decovich v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 17-15324, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33890).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 30 corrected a ruling vacating and remanding a lower court’s dismissal of two out of three claims in a doctor’s case alleging that health plan administrators underpaid for her services and failed to provide requested plan documents, finding that the doctor adequately asserted that she is eligible for additional benefits and statutory damages (W.A. Griffin v. TeamCare, No. 18-2374, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33660).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Counsel for both sides in a class suit alleging excessive fees and imprudent investment funds in Duke University’s retirement plan in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act told a North Carolina federal court on Nov. 29 that a settlement has been reached (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C.).
CHICAGO —A plan participant and two servicers of her company’s 401(k) retirement plan on Nov. 28 entered a stipulation of dismissal of a lawsuit in which the participant alleged that the servicers violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by receiving excessive fees for the services they provided to the plan (Cheryl Scott, et al. v. Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors LLC, et al., No. 17-679, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44606).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The University of Southern California (USC) on Nov. 29 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that affirmed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration in a suit claiming that it charged excessive fees for its 403(b) retirement plan, as well as other breaches of fiduciary duties (University of Southern California, et al. v. Allen L. Munro, et al., No. 18-703, U.S. Sup.).
CINCINNATI — An Ohio federal magistrate judge on Nov. 28 issued an order of final approval of a settlement in a class action suit alleging that a nonprofit hospital company improperly classified its retirement plans as church plans after determining that the settlement, which would allow the retirement plans to continue to be classified as church plans and would provide full benefits to plan participants under the plans for nine years, was fair and reasonable (In re Mercy Health ERISA Litigation, No. 16-441, S.D. Ohio).
BOISE, Idaho — On remand from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, an Idaho federal judge on Nov. 29 ordered employers to pay a total of $405,479.20 in attorney fees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Edward Brasley, et al. v. Fearless Farris Service Stations Inc., et al., No. 08-00173, D. Idaho, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202517).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 28 reversed entry of summary judgment in a case filed by a former employee and participant in Intel Corp.’s retirement plans over allegations that Intel invested retirement funds in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because disputes of material fact exist as to the participant’s “actual knowledge” (Christopher Sulyma, et al. v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, et al., No. 17-15864, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33361).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should grant a petition for an en banc rehearing of a Nov. 13 decision affirming the dismissal of a class complaint against retirement plan defendants accused of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by acting disloyally and imprudently in the management of the an employee investment plan because the panel imposed strict pleading standards that conflict with other Ninth Circuit decisions, the appellants maintain in a Nov. 27 petition for rehearing (Charles E. White, Jr., et al. v. Chevron Corporation, et al., No. 17-16208, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 28 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that a life insurer did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying a widower the benefits of his wife's life insurance policy, finding that the only beneficiary ever designated was his deceased wife’s great-nephew (Jayson Crawford v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 17-11058, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33401).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Home health aides filed a class action complaint in a New York federal court on Nov. 27 against their employers and a reinsurer of their employee benefit plan, alleging that they were “cheated out” of lost wages and benefits (Ynes M. Gonzalez de Fuente, et al. v. Preferred Home Care of New York LLC, et al., No. 18-6749, E.D. N.Y.).