DETROIT — A Michigan federal judge on Nov. 19 approved a $4.25 million class action settlement in a dispute over the continuation of health benefits for retirees of the city of Pontiac, Mich. (The City of Pontiac Retired Employees Association et al., v. Louis Schimmel, et al., No. 12-12830, E.D. Mich.).
CINCINNATI — 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 disability insurer’s conclusion that the claimant could perform the duties of his own occupation with appropriate accommodations, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Nov. 19 (Timothy O’Neill D.O. v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 18-1382, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32781).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Nov. 15 adopted a corrected joint stipulation for class certification in a suit alleging that Columbia University breached its duty of prudence to its retirement plan participants and beneficiaries by causing the university’s retirement plans to incur excessive administrative fees and by failing to monitor the plans’ investment options (Chandra Cates, et al v. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, et al., No. 16-6524, S.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A dermatologist in a Nov. 6 petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to answer 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., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4116).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 affirmed a California federal court’s dismissal of a class complaint alleging that Chevron Corp., the Chevron Investment Committee and 20 Doe defendants violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by acting disloyally and imprudently in the management of the Chevron Employee Saving Investment Plan (Charles E. White, Jr., et al. v. Chevron Corporation, et al., No. 17-16208, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32116).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 13 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by plaintiffs who argued that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in finding that Honeywell International Inc. is permitted 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.).
SEATTLE — A 2016 ordinance passed by the city of Seattle that requires hotel employers to provide a minimum specified level of health benefits to certain employees is preempted by federal law, a trade association representing the employers maintains in an Oct. 25 motion for summary judgment filed in a Washington federal court (ERISA Industry Committee v. Seattle, No. 18-1188, W.D. Wash.).
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana federal judge on Oct. 22 held that pension funds and their trustee failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm if a temporary restraining order was not issued against an employer requiring it to pay unpaid contributions to the funds, denying the request (Mark McCleskey, et al. v. Hooks AV, LLC, No. 1:18-cv-02397, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180575).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Oct. 22 told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred when it found that a state law regulating drug reimbursement rates for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Leslie Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, U.S. Sup.).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Plan participants accusing Vanderbilt University, the oversight committee and members of the committee of mismanaging an employee retirement plan in violation of the Employee Income Retirement Security Act on Nov. 5 objected to a federal magistrate judge’s Oct. 22 recommendation to strike their request for a jury trial, contending that their requests for damages should be decided by a jury because they are legal and not equitable (Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 16-2086, M.D. Tenn.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal magistrate judge on Nov. 8 certified a class of plaintiffs in a suit alleging that Columbia University breached its duty of prudence to its retirement plan participants and beneficiaries by causing the university’s retirement plans to incur excessive administrative fees and by failing to monitor the plans’ investment options (Chandra Cates, et al v. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, et al., No. 16-6524, S.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bank employees and plan participants asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 30 to review the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that they failed to show that any profit was retained by the bank as a result of the illegal transfer of assets from a 401(k) plan to an Employee Retirement Income Security Act pension plan after the Fourth Circuit denied their petition for rehearing en banc (William L. Pender, et al. v. Bank of America Corp., et al., No. 18-578, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — Former SunEdison Inc. employees who participated in the company’s defined-contribution retirement savings plan on Oct. 29 asked the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court’s dismissal of their lawsuit alleging breaches of fiduciary and loyalty duties against SunEdison’s board of directors and investment committee (Eric O’Day, et al. v Ahmad Chatila, et al., Nos. 18-2621 and 18-2632, 2nd Cir.).
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.).
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.).
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).
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).
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.).
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.).
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).