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Mealey's ERISA

  • 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.).

  • October 1, 2018

    Judge: ERISA Does Not Apply To Foreign Nationals Working Outside Of United States

    PHILADELPHIA — After finding support for a disability claimant’s argument that the Employee Retirement Income Security does not apply to foreign nationals working outside of the United States, a Pennsylvania federal judge on Sept. 27 rejected the insurer’s argument that the claims are preempted under ERISA and remanded the disability claimant’s suit to state court (Salih Bajrami v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 18-162, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166098).

  • October 1, 2018

    High Court Denies Petition In Dispute Over Primary Payer For Medical Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S Supreme Court on Oct. 1 denied a petition for certiorari in a dispute over whether a health insurer or Medicare was the primary payer for an employee’s medical claims (Jennifer Perkins v. US Airways Inc., et al., No. 18-134, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 1, 2018

    Supreme Court Denies Review Of Service-Of-Suit Ruling In Disability Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 1 denied a petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the Colorado Supreme Court’s dismissal of two long-term disability insurance lawsuits based on its finding that the benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is not a proper defendant (Brenda Olivar v. Public Service Employee Credit Union Long Term Disability Plan, and Caroline Burton, et al. v. Colorado Access, et al., No. 17-1543, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 1, 2018

    High Court Denies Review Of 9th Circuit’s Disability Offset Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 1 denied a disability claimant’s petition for writ of certiorari in a dispute regarding the offsetting of the claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits to account for Social Security disability income (SSDI) benefits received on behalf of the claimant’s dependents (Susan Rene Jones v. Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp., et al., No. 17-1478, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 1, 2018

    ERISA’s Church-Plan Exemption Applies To Plans, Federal Judge Rules

    CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on Sept. 28 held that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s church-plan exemption applies to two defined-benefits plans and that the exemption is not unconstitutional, granting a nonprofit corporation’s motion for summary judgment in a class complaint filed by employees (Sheilar Smith, et al. v. OSF Healthcare System, et al., No. 16-467, S.D. Ill.)

  • September 21, 2018

    ESOP, Trust And Fiduciary Stipulate To Dismissal Of ESOP Loss Dispute In High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and trust and a fiduciary on Sept. 14 filed a stipulation of dismissal in the U.S. Supreme Court of a dispute over whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act shifts the burden of persuasion on causation to the defendant once a plaintiff has shown a prima facie case of loss (The Pioneer Centres Holding Company Stock Ownership Plan, et al. v. Alerus Financial, N.A., No. 17-667, U.S. Sup.).

  • September 19, 2018

    Plaintiffs Plausibly Allege Plan Is Not Properly Maintained As Church Plan

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Sept. 6 denied a retirement plan’s motion to dismiss as it pertained to all but the plaintiffs’ specific performance claim after determining that the plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the plan is not properly maintained as a church plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Starla Rollins et al., v. Dignity Health et al., No. 13-1450, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152321).

  • September 19, 2018

    Indiana Federal Judge Certifies 1 Of 2 Classes In Anthem ERISA Class Action

    INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana federal judge on Sept. 14 partially granted a motion to certify a class of representatives in a suit filed by 401(k) plan participants who allege that the retirement plan breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by providing plan participants with an imprudent investment fund and by charging plan participants excessive administrative fees (Mary Bell, et al. v. Pension Committee of ATH Holding Company LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-02062, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156927).

  • September 18, 2018

    Disability Claimant Failed To Challenge District Court’s Ruling, Panel Says

    CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on Sept. 11 affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of a retirement benefits plan because the appellant, seeking retirement disability benefits, failed to challenge the district court’s finding that the retirement plan was properly amended to delete a provision stating that a claimant would be considered totally disabled if the Social Security Administration (SSA) declared the claimant disabled (Patsy Saylor v. Appalachian Regional Hospital, No. 17-6266, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25828).

  • September 18, 2018

    2nd Circuit Finds Pension Fund’s Trustees Clearly Explained Widow’s Eligibility

    NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 14 affirmed a federal judge in New York’s ruling awarding summary judgment to the trustees of a pension fund accused of breaching their fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act suit, finding that the plan’s summary plan description (SPD) clearly explained the amount of benefits a woman was eligible to receive from deceased husband’s plan (Emily DeRogatis v. Board of Trustees of the Welfare Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 15, et al., Nos. 16-977-cv, 16-3549-cv, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26126).

  • September 17, 2018

    7th Circuit Holds Compensation Under Benefits Plan Excluded Commissions

    CHICAGO — After determining that a former loan officer’s commissions were not considered when determining his monthly pension calculation and that commissions were excluded under a defined-benefits plan, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 17 affirmed a district court’s summary judgment ruling for the administrator of the plan (Wessley Gunchick v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 18-1420, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26192).

  • September 17, 2018

    Termination Of Disability Benefits Was Arbitrary And Capricious, Majority Says

    CHICAGO — A disability insurer acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it failed to consider the opinions of four doctors in favor of one doctor who determined that a disability claimant was not disabled as a result of radiculopathy, a majority of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Sept. 14 reversing a district court’s opinion and remanding the claim to the plan administrator (Susan Hennen v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 17-3080, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26114).

  • September 17, 2018

    Class Certified In Suit Alleging Emory University Breached Fiduciary Duty

    ATLANTA — A Georgia federal judge on Sept. 13 granted a motion to certify a class in a lawsuit alleging that Emory University mismanaged its employee retirement plans by charging excessive fees, using multiple record-keepers to operate their plans and handle administrative services and offering too many high-cost and poorly performing investment options (Geneva Henderson, et al. v. Emory University, et al., No. 1:16-cv-2920, N.D. Ga.).

  • September 17, 2018

    Minnesota Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — As a result of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ mandate vacating the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule, a Minnesota federal judge on Sept. 14 dismissed without prejudice a plaintiff’s suit challenging the rule (Thrivent Financial for Lutherans v. Acosta, et al., No. 0:16-cv-03289, D. Minn.).

  • September 13, 2018

    Pennsylvania Federal Judge Approves $25M Settlement In Wawa Inc. ESOP Suit

    PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 31 granted final approval of a $25 million settlement payment to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), allocated on a pro rata basis among more than 1,200 class members, in a suit alleging that an amendment to the ESOP was a breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Greg Pfeifer, et al. v. Wawa Inc., et al., No. 16-497, E.D. Pa.).

  • September 13, 2018

    Judge: Fiduciary Duty Claim In Wilderness Therapy ERISA Case Survives, Judge Says

    NEW YORK — An insurer’s alleged coverage for skilled nursing and rehabilitation while imposing a blanket exclusion on wilderness therapy adequately pleads a violation of the mental health parity law, a federal judge in New York held Sept. 11 while denying a motion to dismiss an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claim (William Gallagher, et al. v. Empire Healthcare Assurance Inc., et al., No. 16-9105, S.D. N.Y.).