BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that the ex-wife of a deceased professional football player is not entitled to additional pension benefits pursuant to a marital property agreement that was refined by postmortem state court domestic relations orders following her ex-husband's death, finding that the 2011 and 2012 state court domestic relations orders fail to constitute a qualified domestic relations order pursuant to federal law (Linnea Garcia-Tatupu v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, et al., No. 17-2179, 1st Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1202).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 denied a disability claimant’s motion to transfer consideration of attorney fees to the district court, which will be considering the source of a claimant’s disability on remand, because the claimant has not yet achieved any degree of success on the merits (Miae Decovich v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 17-15324, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1218).
BOSTON — A disability insurer’s denial of long-term disability (LTD) benefits based on the policy’s pre-existing condition limitation was reasonable because the insurer offered a reasonable interpretation of the policy that clearly precludes coverage for LTD benefits if the claimant was treated for the same sickness during the 90 days prior to the effective date of coverage, a Massachusetts federal judge said Jan. 14 (William Holzman v. The Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 17-11436, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6049).
ST. LOUIS — Participants in a 403(b) retirement program offered by Washington University in St. Louis on Jan. 10 asked the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court’s dismissal of their claims that plan fiduciaries violated their duties (Latasha Davis, et al. v. Washington University in St. Louis, et al., No. 18-3345, 8th Cir.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Jan. 3 approved a $6.9 million settlement in a class action suit brought by participants in Citigroup’s 401(k) retirement plan who alleged that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties in managing the company’s 401(k) retirement plan (Marya J. Leber v. Citigroup Inc., et al., No. 07-cv-009329, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — In two amicus curiae briefs filed Jan. 10, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is urged to rule in favor of The New York Times Co. in a dispute over the newspaper’s liability for withdrawing from a multiemployer pension plan (The New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund, et al., No. 18-1140, 2nd Cir.).
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Participants in Transamerica Corp.’s 401(k) plan allege in a Dec. 28 class action complaint filed in Iowa federal court that the plan fiduciaries breached their duty of prudence by mismanaging the plan and failing to remove underperforming investment portfolios, managed by a Transamerica affiliate, from the plan’s investment options (Jeremy Karg, et al. v. Transamerica Corp., et al., No. 18-1042, N.D. Iowa).
SEATTLE — Allegations by a trade association that a 2016 ordinance, which requires hotels to provide health benefits to certain employees, runs afoul of the express preemption provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a), were stayed Dec. 27 by a Washington federal judge three days after the Washington Court of Appeals struck down the ordinance as unconstitutional (ERISA Industry Committee v. Seattle, No. 18-1188, W.D. Wash.).
SEATTLE — A putative class’s claims involving insurance coverage for outdoor residential mental health treatment may be dismissed without notice because dismissal comes without prejudice and nothing precludes any proposed class member from pursing his or her own litigation, a lead plaintiff who recently resolved her own Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims against the insurer told a federal judge in Washington on Jan. 10 (A.Z., et al. v. Regence Blueshield, et al., No. 17-1292, W.D. Wash.).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 9 refused to reconsider its ruling that a district court did not err in concluding that a disability claimant was not disabled from his own occupation as an anesthesiologist because the medical evidence supported the insurer’s finding that the claimant could perform the duties of his own occupation with appropriate accommodations (Timothy O’Neill D.O. v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 18-1382, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 817).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Allegations that Georgetown University imprudently selected and retained certain investment options, causing participants in two retirement plans to pay excessively high administrative fees, were rejected outright Jan. 8 by a District of Columbia federal judge in response to a motion to dismiss (Darrell Wilcox and Michael McGuire v. Georgetown University, No. 18-422, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3082).
ST. LOUIS — A disability insurer reasonably concluded that a claimant’s disability was caused by depression and anxiety rather than fibromyalgia because the objective medical records did not support the claimant’s complaints of physical pain, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 9 (Marianne Thiry v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-3288, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 613).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge on Dec. 19 granted a joint motion to stay proceedings pending mediation in a lawsuit accusing Vanderbilt University, the oversight committee and members of the committee of mismanaging the employee retirement plan in violation of the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a dermatologist seeking a decision on whether an assignee of benefits has the authority to request Employee Retirement and Income Security Act plan documents from the plan administrator even if the original assignment does not confer rights to pursue statutory penalties claims (W.A. Griffin, M.D. v. Aetna Health Inc., et al., No. 18-613, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A majority of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 4 reversed and remanded a district court’s ruling in favor of a disability plan and the plan administrator after determining that the district court failed to address all of the procedural irregularities that allegedly occurred during the claim review process (Leslie Hoffman v. Screen Actors Guild Producers Pension Plan, No. 16-56663, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 284).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 4 reversed and remanded a judgment entered in favor of a disability insurer after determining that a district court erred in applying the abuse of discretion standard of review rather than the de novo standard of review (Robert Gordon v. Metropolitan Insurance Co., No. 17-16821, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 292).
CINCINNATI — A district court did not err in granting judgment in favor of a disability insurer and a plan administrator because the claimant failed to allege in the district court that the plan was improperly amended, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 3 (David Moore v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-5325, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 239).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 3 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by participants in the Chevron Employee Savings Investment Plan seeking reconsideration 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 (Charles E. White, Jr., et al. v. Chevron Corporation, et al., No. 17-1628, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 149).
SAN FRANCISCO — A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating a claimant’s short-term disability benefits because none of the claimant’s treating physicians found that the claimant was functionally impaired from performing the duties of his own occupation, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 10 (Daniel Johnson v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-55501, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34657).
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Dec. 31 affirmed a trial court’s ruling that a health plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is not obligated to pay a law firm for the legal services it provided to the plan participant because no implied-in-law contract existed between the law firm and the plan (O’Brien & Wolf LLP v. South Central Minnesota Electrical Workers’ Family Health Plan, No. A18-0921, Minn. App., 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 513).