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Mealey's ERISA

  • January 29, 2019

    Fiduciaries Move To Stay Duty-Of-Prudence Dispute To Seek Supreme Court Review

    NEW YORK — Fiduciaries of an IBM employee stock option plan (ESOP) on Jan. 24 moved to stay the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ mandate that employees plausibly asserted a duty-of-prudence claim against them under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act pending their filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court (Larry W. Jander, et al. v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al., No. 17-3518, 2nd Cir.).

  • January 28, 2019

    After Bench Trial, Missouri Federal Judge Rejects ERISA Claims

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In Jan. 23 findings of fact and conclusions of law, a Missouri federal judge found that allegations by two plaintiffs that retirement plan administrators and sponsors breached their fiduciary duties by, among other things, engaging in equitable disgorgement of ill-gotten profits were not proven at a September 2018 bench trial (Steve Wildman, et al. v. American Century Services LLC, et al., No. 4:16-cv-00737, W.D. Mo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10672).

  • January 28, 2019

    2nd Circuit Declines To Disturb Administrator’s Interpretation Of Retirement Plan

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 24 said that although appellants’ interpretation of a retirement plan is more reasonable, under the standard of review it must apply, the administrator's interpretation of the plan must be affirmed in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute over the denial of early retirement benefits (Kathy Joy Kirkendall, et al. v. Halliburton, Inc., No. 17-3487, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 2280).

  • January 28, 2019

    AARP Urges Reversal, Says Wrong Pleading Standard Used In Fiduciary Duty Case

    CHICAGO — The AARP Foundation and the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit organization that works to protect and promote the retirement security of workers and retirees, on Jan. 24 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a lower court erred in applying a too-stringent pleading standard and misinterpreted precedent when it dismissed a purported class action filed against a retirement plan for alleged violations of fiduciary duty (Laura L. Divane, et al. v. Northwestern University, et al., No. 18-2569, 7th Cir.).

  • January 25, 2019

    Class Certification Granted In Breach Of Fiduciary Suit Against Cornell

    NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Jan. 22 granted a motion for class certification in a breach of fiduciary lawsuit filed by participants of Cornell University’s retirement plans after determining that the plaintiffs have standing to bring the class claims against the defendants and have met the requirements for class certification under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Casey Cunningham, et al. v. Cornell University, et al., No. 16-6525, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10357).

  • January 24, 2019

    Johnson & Johnson Concealed Asbestos-Talc Problems To Inflate Stock, Class Claims

    NEWARK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson (J&J) inflated its stock price by hiding the fact that its flagship baby powder product contained asbestos, defined contribution plan participants allege in a Jan. 22 Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action (Michael Perrone, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 19-923, D. N.J.).

  • January 23, 2019

    Disability Benefits Were Properly Denied Under Plan, 6th Circuit Panel Affirms

    CINCINNATI — A disability claimant is not entitled to long-term disability (LTD) benefits because the plan’s decision to terminate his benefits was reasonable based on a review of the medical evidence, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 22 in affirming a district court’s decision in favor of the plan (Marc Jackson v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Long Term Disability Program, No. 18-1542, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1978).

  • January 23, 2019

    Department Of Labor Says Alleged Insurance Underpayment Provides Standing

    ST. LOUIS — A couple adequately allege injury from what they claim is an improper denial of health insurance coverage, and the fact that they assigned the right to any recovery in their ERISA suit to the provider does not strip them of it, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) tells a federal appeals court in a Jan. 22 amicus curiae brief (Ivan Mitchell, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, et al., No. 18-2784, 8th Cir.).

  • January 23, 2019

    Insurer Failed To Prove Disabling Condition Was Caused By Pre-Existing Condition

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 reversed a district court’s ruling in favor of a disability plan after determining that the insurer failed to carry its burden of proving that the plan’s pre-existing condition exclusion applied to bar a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits  (Fadi G. Haddad, M.D. v. SMG Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 17-16729, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 2003).

  • January 23, 2019

    Bank Asks High Court To Affirm 4th Circuit’s Ruling On Accounting-For-Profit Claim

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bank on Jan. 17 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that bank employees and plan participants failed to show that any profit was retained by the bank as a result of a challenged transfer of assets from a 401(k) plan to an Employee Retirement Income Security Act pension plan (William L. Pender, et al. v. Bank of America Corp., et al., No. 18-578, U.S. Sup.).

  • January 23, 2019

    2nd Circuit Denies Request For En Banc Rehearing On Duty-Of-Prudence Claim

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 18 denied a petition for an en banc rehearing filed by fiduciaries of an IBM employee stock option plan (ESOP) who sought reversal of an earlier ruling finding that employees plausibly asserted a duty-of-prudence claim against them under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Larry W. Jander, et al. v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al., No. 17-3518, 2nd Cir.).

  • January 22, 2019

    Settlement Of ‘Church Plan’ Case Preliminarily Approved In Missouri

    ST. LOUIS — A Missouri federal judge on Jan. 18 granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement in a dispute over whether three defined pension benefit plans qualify as exempt “church plans” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (Lisa Feather, et al. v. SSM Health, et al., No. 16-1669, E.D. Mo.).

  • January 22, 2019

    Couple, Health Insurer Debate Air Transport Coverage Ruling In 8th Circuit

    ST. LOUIS — A health insurer had no policy for calculating air transport payments before receiving a claim, and in an effort to evade this fact created post-hoc rules and justifications, a couple told the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 10 in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act suit (Ivan Mitchell, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, et al., No. 18-2784, 8th Cir.).

  • January 22, 2019

    Plan Administrator Abused Discretion In Terminating LTD Benefits, Majority Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — A long-term disability (LTD) plan administrator abused its discretion in denying LTD benefits under the plan’s any-occupation standard because the plan administrator failed to properly consider restrictions placed on the claimant, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority said Jan. 18 (Jennifer Kott v. Agilent Technologies Inc. Disability Plan, No. 17-16584, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1768).

  • January 22, 2019

    Retirement Plan Participants Seek Approval Of $10.6M Settlement With Duke University

    GREENSBORO, N.C. — Participants in Duke University’s retirement plan on Jan. 16 moved for a North Carolina federal court to preliminarily approve a $10,650,000 settlement it reached with the university in their class suit alleging excessive fees and imprudent investment funds in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C.).

  • January 18, 2019

    8th Circuit: Res Judicata Bars Ex-Husband’s Suit Arising Out Of Pension Payments

    ST. LOUIS — A district court did not err in finding that the doctrine of res judicata bars an ex-husband’s suit seeking recovery of payments made to his ex-wife because a New Jersey state court previously determined that the ex-wife was entitled to a portion of the ex-husband’s pension regardless of whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act applied, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 16 (Bruce G. Schwartz v. Ardis Bogen, No. 17-3812, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1386).

  • January 18, 2019

    Professional Services, ERISA Exclusions Do Not Bar Coverage, 1st Circuit Affirms

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 16 affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling that a business and management indemnity insurance policy’s professional services and Employment Retirement Income Security Act exclusions do not relieve the insurer of its duty to defend its real estate investment vehicle insured against underlying claims for negligence and ERISA violations (Scottsdale Insurance Company v. Timothy L. Byrne, et al., No. 18-1526, 1st Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1440).

  • January 17, 2019

    Panel Affirms Ruling In Favor Of Plaintiffs On United’s Cross-Plan Offsetting Practice

    ST. LOUIS — UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s practice of cross-plan offsetting is not authorized by its plan documents and is in tension with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 15 in affirming a district court’s summary judgment ruling in consolidated class actions challenging the insurer’s practice of cross-plan offsetting (Louis J. Peterson D.C., et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 17-1744, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1270).

  • January 17, 2019

    Plan Trustee Seeks High Court Review Of Who Bears Burden Of Proving Loss Causation

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 401(k) plan trustee on Jan. 11 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue of who bears the burden of proof on loss causation in its Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute with plan participants, arguing that the high court should grant certiorari to “restore the nationwide predictability and uniformity that ERISA promises” (Putnam Investments, LLC, et al., v. John Brotherston, et al., No. 18-926, U.S. Sup.).

  • January 16, 2019

    Panel Upholds ‘New Hire’ Remedy, Prime Rate Prejudgment Interest Award

    NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 found that a New York federal judge did not abuse his discretion in concluding that violations by administrators of the Xerox Corporation Pension Plan of the notice requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act can be remedied by reformation of contract (Paul J. Frommert, et al. v. Sally Conkright, Xerox Corporation Pension Plan Administrator, et al., Nos. 17‐114, 17‐738, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1145).