WASHINGTON, D.C. — George Washington University (GW) prevailed July 15 when a federal judge in the District of Columbia found that a general release signed by a plaintiff in 2016 precludes her from now asserting that the school breached its fiduciary duty by charging excessive fees and offering imprudent investments (Melissa Stanley v. George Washington University, et al., No. 18-878, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116772).
SAN FRANCISCO — Whether a court properly certified a class of plaintiffs with various health care plans who were denied mental health treatments and the extent of remedies available under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act are all before a California federal judge after post-trial briefing July 10 (David and Natasha Wit, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-02346, Gary Alexander, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-5337, N.D. Calif.).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 11 reversed a district court’s judgment in favor of a health care provider after determining that the suit alleging that the provider overbilled patients is not governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and, therefore, was not properly removed from Tennessee state court (K.B., by and through her natural parent, Jennifer Qassis, et al. v. Methodist Healthcare - Memphis Hospitals et al., No. 18-6128, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 20616).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 10 concluded that bonuses deferred under a separate agreement do not transform a deferred compensation plan into a bonus plan exempt from Employee Retirement Income Security Act scrutiny (Dan Wilson v. Safelite Group Inc., No. 18-3408, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 20472).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After initially waiving its right to respond, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) on July 3 filed an opposition brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in which it argues that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ holding that the federal common-law doctrine of successor liability applies to pension plan terminations does not conflict with Supreme Court precedent or the other courts of appeals (September Ends Co., et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., No. 18-1265, U.S. Sup.).
ST. LOUIS — A district court did not err in granting a disability insurer’s motion for summary judgment because the insurer’s denial of benefits is supported by the medical evidence in the administrative record, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 3 (David C. Nicholson v. Standard Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-1848, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19909).
BOSTON — Because nothing in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act prevents a retirement savings plan’s service provider from acting in its own interests when negotiating its compensation, the provider and other defendants argue in a July 1 brief that a Massachusetts federal court should dismiss a consolidated amended complaint alleging a kickback payments scheme in connection with plan investments (In re Fidelity ERISA Fee Litigation, No. 19-10335, D Mass.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Terms of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan contained in the summary plan description (SPD) permitted the plan to seek reimbursement of health benefits paid to a member for injuries caused by another after that party’s insurer settled, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 3 (MBI Energy Services v. Robert Hoch, No. 18-1539, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19936).
RICHMOND, Va. — A panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 3 reversed and remanded a Virginia federal judge’s dismissal of allegations that an employer is obligated to pay an exit contribution to a pension fund (Board of Trustees of the Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund v. Four-C-Aire Inc., No. 17-2295, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19953).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 2 denied a 401(k) plan sponsor’s petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc, leaving in place its April 23 decision upholding a California federal judge’s determination that the plan sponsor engaged in self-dealing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Alexander Acosta v. City National Corporation, et al., No. 17-55421, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19837).
NEW YORK — A July 2018 rejection of allegations New York University (NYU) made imprudent investments in a 403(b) employee benefit plan should stand, according to a July 1 ruling by a New York federal judge to whom the case has since been reassigned (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 16-6284, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110561).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on June 26 denied a hotel company’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing a case in which an ordinance imposing new requirements on hotel operators in Oakland, Calif., was challenged on grounds of being unconstitutionally vague and preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal. Hotels & Lodging Ass’n v. Oakland, No. 19-cv-01232, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107242).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should deny a petition for certiorari in a case alleging breach of fiduciary duty against a retirement plan because there is no split among the circuit courts regarding whether forum selection clauses in plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act are valid and enforceable, the plan defendants contend in a June 27 response brief (Jeffrey A. Robertson v. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 18-1341, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 granted a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by pension plan participants who were found by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to lack standing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to bring suit over losses to the plan because the plan was subsequently overfunded and directed the parties to brief and argue an additional question (James J. Thole, et al. v. U.S. Bank, N.A., et al., No. 17-1712, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on June 24 remanded 12 separate lawsuits filed by foreign nationals alleging claims for breach of contract and bad faith against a disability insurer after determining that federal jurisdiction does not exist because Congress has not clearly expressed that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act applies extraterritorially (In re Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co. et. al., Nos. 19-331; 19-332; 19-333; 19-334; 19-335; 19-336; 19-338; 19-339; 19-340; 19-341; 19-342; 19-343, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104922).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina federal judge on June 24 granted final approval of a $10.6 million Employee Retirement Income Security Act settlement, bringing two class action disputes over fees charged by the Duke University 403(b) retirement plan to a close (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044; Kathi Lucas, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 18-722, M.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105697, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105696, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105792).
RICHMOND, Va. — The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 20 reversed and remanded a district court’s ruling in favor of a pension plan after determining that the plan’s failure to disclose an audit conducted by an employer to a widow challenging the calculation of the plan’s survivor annuity benefit was an abuse of discretion (Veda M. Odle v. UMWA 1974 Pension Plan, et al., No. 18-1398, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18515).
RICHMOND, Va. — A disability insurer abused its discretion in terminating a claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits because a wealth of medical evidence supports a finding that the claimant was not capable of working in a sedentary position and was totally disabled under the terms of the disability plan, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 20 (Fredrick E. Smith, et al. v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 18-2225, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18518).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 25 vacated and remanded a district court’s ruling in favor of a disability insurer after determining that the district court erred in applying the doctrine of substantial compliance to excuse the insurer’s failure to issue an administrative appeal decision by the imposed deadline and to justify the use of the arbitrary and capricious standard of review because the substantial compliance doctrine does not apply to regulatory deadlines imposed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Donald Fessenden v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-1346, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18885).
OMAHA, Neb. — Allegations by a former employee of National Indemnity Co. that the insurer breached its fiduciary duties by continuing to offer an underperforming mutual fund in a defined contribution employee retirement plan were rejected June 18 by a federal judge in Nebraska (Marc J. Muri v. National Indemnity Company, No. 17-178, D. Neb., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101540).