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Mealey's ERISA

  • November 9, 2018

    PricewaterhouseCoopers Says Ruling Must Be Upheld, ERISA Does Not Provide Relief Sought

    NEW YORK — In an Nov. 7 brief, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) urges the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a New York federal judge’s ruling in PwC’s favor in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act recalculation of benefits class action suit because the federal judge correctly determined that ERISA does not permit the equitable relief sought by the plaintiffs (Timothy D. Laurent, et al. v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, et al., No. 18-487, 2nd Cir.).

  • November 8, 2018

    Plan Participants’ Retail Shares, Record-Keeping Claims Survive Dismissal

    SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge in California Nov. 5 denied a motion to dismiss filed by a union retirement plan accused by a proposed class of plan participants of breaching duties of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging excessive fees for record keeping and offering retail shares of the plan’s mutual funds instead of less expensive shares of the same funds, finding that the plaintiffs’ record-keeping claims were timely and that the allegations sufficiently stated claims against the plan (Felipe Ybarra, et al. v. Board of Trustees of Supplemental Income Trust Fund, et al., No. 17-02091, C.D. Calif.).

  • November 8, 2018

    Employer Failed To Properly Provide Employee With COBRA Notification, Judge Says

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio federal judge on Nov. 6 granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on a claim alleging that an employer violated the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) after determining that the employee’s reduction in work hours constituted a COBRA qualifying event that required the employer to provide her with COBRA notification (Rebecca Morehouse, et al. v. Steak N Shake Inc., No. 16-789, S.D. Ohio, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189876).

  • November 7, 2018

    6th Circuit Denies Underfunded Trust’s Request For En Banc Rehearing

    CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 5 denied a petition filed by a trust claiming that it should not be held liable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for $30 million in losses that occurred after a company ceased operations for a full panel rehearing of its Sept. 4 ruling that reinstated a lawsuit against it, finding that all arguments raised in the petition had already been addressed by the appeals court (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. Findlay Industries Inc., et al., No. 17-3520, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 31387).

  • November 2, 2018

    401(k) Plan Trustee’s Motion To Stay 1st Circuit Mandate Granted

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 29 granted a 401(k) plan trustee’s motion to stay its Oct. 15 mandate to allow the trustee to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of who bears the burden of proof on loss causation in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute between the 401(k) plan participants and the plan trustee (John Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments LLC, et al., No. 17-1711, 1st Cir.).

  • November 1, 2018

    Beneficiaries Ask Court To Approve $9M Settlement Of Prudential ERISA Suit

    PHILADELPHIA — Beneficiaries who claim that Prudential Insurance Company of America violated its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to provide them with lump sum payments moved in Pennsylvania federal court on Oct. 29 seeking approval of a $9 million settlement with the insurer (Clark R. Huffman, et al. v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 10cv5135, E.D. Pa.).

  • October 31, 2018

    Federal Judge Stands By Dismissal Of ERISA, Establishment Clause Claims

    ST. LOUIS — A Missouri federal judge on Oct. 29 refused to reconsider an Aug. 27 ruling that no federal question jurisdiction exists over claims that Mercy Health underfunded its employee pension plan in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the plan satisfies the statutory requirements for church-plan exemption under ERISA (Sally Sanzone, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Mercy Health, et al., No. 16-923, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184378).

  • October 30, 2018

    Supplemental Plan Is Governed By ERISA, 3rd Circuit Determines

    PHILADELPHIA — A supplemental disability plan offered by a disability claimant’s former employer is governed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the claimant failed to prove that a reasonable employee would view the supplemental plan as a third-party offering not affiliated with the employer, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Oct. 5 (Kevin M. McCann, M.D. v. Unum Provident, et al., No. 16-2014, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 29638).

  • October 30, 2018

    Couple Tells 8th Circuit Insurer’s Air Transport Payment Unsupported By ERISA

    ST. LOUIS — A health insurer’s unsupported calculation of the allowable charge for air transport is a “radical view” of its powers under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, would leave insureds with “virtually no coverage” and cannot withstand scrutiny, a couple tells the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an Oct. 26 opening brief (Ivan Mitchell, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, et al., No. 18-2784, 8th Cir.).

  • October 30, 2018

    Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim Against EpiPen Defendants Stands, Federal Judge Says

    MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota federal judge on Oct. 26 determined that a breach of fiduciary duty claim alleged against a number of defendants in a lawsuit arising out of the increased cost of the EpiPen prescription can stand because the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged facts to support the claim (In re:  EpiPen ERISA Litigation, No. 17-1884, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183650).

  • October 29, 2018

    Plan Trustee Seeks Stay Of 1st Circuit Ruling To Pursue High Court’s Review

    BOSTON — A 401(k) plan trustee on Oct. 24 filed a motion to stay an Oct. 15 mandate issued by the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to allow the trustee to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of who bears the burden of proof on loss causation in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute between the 401(k) plan participants and the plan trustee (John Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments LLC, et al., No. 17-1711, 1st Cir.).

  • October 26, 2018

    Anti-Assignment Provision Bars Doctor’s Claims Against Health Insurer, Panel Says

    ATLANTA — A doctor’s suit against a health plan and a plan administrator was properly dismissed, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Oct. 25 because the plan’s anti-assignment provision prohibited the plan participant from assigning the right to obtain plan benefits to the doctor and because the doctor had no right to obtain the plan documents as the original assignment of rights did not include a transfer of those rights (W.A. Griffin v. United Healthcare of Georgia Inc. et al., No. 18-10208, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 30058).

  • October 25, 2018

    Class Certified In Vanderbilt ERISA Lawsuit Over Fees, Prohibited Transactions

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge on Oct. 23 certified a class of participants suing Vanderbilt University, the oversight committee and members of the committee for mismanaging the employee retirement plan and rejected the defendants’ contention that the plaintiffs could not fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181850).

  • October 24, 2018

    Plan Participant Failed To Submit Election Form As Required By Plan Terms

    CHICAGO — A plan administrator of an early-out voluntary severance plan did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a plan participant’s claim for lump-sum benefits under the plan because the participant failed to submit the online election bid form as required by the plan, an Illinois federal judge said Oct. 23 (Jerome Scarber v. United Airlines Inc. et al., No. 15-9147, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181475).

  • October 25, 2018

    Dispute Over Honeywell Effort To Scrap Retiree Benefits Lands At High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an Oct. 9 petition for certiorari, plaintiffs assert that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in greenlighting a plan by Honeywell International Inc. to terminate health benefits for retirees of a Greenville, Ohio, oil filter plant (Barbara Fletcher, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 18-467, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 23, 2018

    Federal Judge Grants Motion To Certify Class In ERISA Suit Brought Against MIT

    BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Oct. 19 granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class in their Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit brought against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and its defined-contribution plan (Tracey, et al. v. MIT, et al., No. 16-11620, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179945).

  • October 22, 2018

    Settlement Of ERISA Claims Wins Final Approval In Illinois

    CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on Sept. 12 signed off on a $6.5 million settlement of class action claims that the University of Chicago acted imprudently when selecting and maintaining investment options for two employee retirement plans (Winifred J. Daugherty, et al. v. The University of Chicago, No. 17-3736, N.D. Ill.).

  • October 22, 2018

    9th Circuit Hears Arguments On Applicable Limitations Period Under ERISA

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 18 heard oral arguments on the issue of whether a limitations period of three years or a limitations period of six years under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act applies to a suit filed by a participant in Intel Corp.’s 401(k) plan who claims that the plan made imprudent investments that resulted in losses to plan participants (Christopher Sulyma, et al. v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, et al., No. 17-15864, 9th Cir.).

  • October 19, 2018

    Federal Judge Grants Disability Insurer’s Motion For Judgment On Pleadings

    BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Oct. 16 granted a disability insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in a U.S. Army veteran’s class action alleging that the insurer wrongfully offset disability benefits payable under its policy by disability benefits received from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after determining that the remaining claims cannot stand based on the court’s prior ruling that the offset was permitted under the plan (Marco Martinez v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 16-12154, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178188).

  • October 19, 2018

    Federal Judge Adopts Plaintiffs’ Methodologies In Cigna Conversion Suit

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on Oct. 16 adopted the proposed interest rate and age assumption methodologies proposed by plaintiffs in a lawsuit regarding Cigna Corp.’s conversion from a traditional defined-benefit pension plan to a cash-balance plan after determining that the plaintiffs’ methodologies are more persuasive than Cigna’s methodologies for the purpose of calculating the net present value of the remedy award and calculating the attorney fees to which the plaintiffs may be entitled (Janice C. Amara, et al. v. Cigna Corp., et al., No. 3:01-cv-2361, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178609).