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Mealey's ERISA

  • 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 No 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).

  • January 16, 2019

    Panel: Football Player’s Ex-Wife Was Not Wrongfully Denied Pension Benefits

    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).

  • January 15, 2019

    Panel Denies Disability Claimant’s Motion To Transfer Attorney Fee Question

    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).

  • January 15, 2019

    Disability Insurer Reasonably Applied Pre-Existing Condition Limitation To Deny Benefits

    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).

  • January 15, 2019

    Plan Participants Appeal Dismissal Of Suit Alleging Fiduciaries Violated Duties

    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.).

  • January 14, 2019

    Judge Approves $6.9M Settlement In Citigroup 401(k) Class Action Suit

    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.).

  • January 14, 2019

    Withdrawal Liability, Arbitrator Deference Debated In New York Times ERISA Case

    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.).

  • January 14, 2019

    401(k) Plan Participants File Suit, Allege Fiduciaries Breached Duty Of Prudence

    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).

  • January 14, 2019

    Washington ERISA Case Stayed After Seattle Ballot Initiative Invalidated

    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.).

  • January 11, 2019

    Residential Health Treatment Plaintiff Settles, Wants No-Notice Class Dismissal

    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.).