Mealey's ERISA

  • July 08, 2020

    Supreme Court Reverses Injunction In ACA Birth Control Exception Rules Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) granted government agencies “virtually unbridled discretion” over what constitutes preventive care, including the power to issue exemptions for religious and moral objectors to the law’s contraceptive mandate, the U.S. Supreme Court said July 8 in a 7-2 opinion, reversing the Third Circuit and dissolving a nationwide injunction (Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, et al., Donald J. Trump, et al. v. Pennsylvania, Nos. 19-431, 19-454, U.S. Sup.).

  • July 07, 2020

    Plan Participants Seek Nod From Judge To Settle ERISA Class Action With Fidelity

    BOSTON — A group of participants in a Fidelity Investment employee savings plan say in a July 2 unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement that they have reached a fair and reasonable agreement with Fidelity that creates a $28.5 million settlement fund and institutes plan monitoring and recordkeeping procedures (Kevin Moitoso, et al. v. FMR LLC, et al., No. 18-12122, D. Mass.).

  • July 07, 2020

    9th Circuit: District Court Must Clarify Anthem Roles In ERISA Benefit Denial

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 26 that a California federal court must clarify the roles two Anthem entities played in denying benefits under an ERISA-governed plan to an 8-year-old boy suffering from a neuropsychiatric disorder, saying that without that clarification, the correct standard of review for the coverage denial was unknown (Ryan E. v. Entertainment Industry Flex Plan, No. 19-55131, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20261).

  • July 07, 2020

    American Airlines Defendants Say ERISA 401(k) Plan Mismanagement Claims Fail

    FORT WORTH, Texas — Following a Texas federal judge’s July 1 denial of plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a suit alleging that American Airlines Inc. and its pension administration committee breached their fiduciary duties by mismanaging the company’s 401(k) plan, the defendants moved for summary judgment on July 3, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to  allege facts in support of their contention that the plan fiduciaries mismanaged the plan (Salvadora Ortiz and Thomas Scott, et al. v. American Airlines Inc., et al., No. 16-151, N.D. Texas).

  • July 07, 2020

    Panel: Pension Fund’s Benefits Calculation Was ‘Arbitrary, Capricious’

    NEW YORK — A pension fund’s calculation of an employee’s benefits was “arbitrary and capricious” because there was no supervisor exclusion in the plan and the employee was covered, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 30, affirming summary judgment in favor of the employee (John Latronica v. Local 1430 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Pension Fund, et al., No. 19-2978, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20757).

  • July 06, 2020

    9th Circuit Vacates, Remands Dismissal Of ERISA Case Against Insurer

    SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 30 summary disposition, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that a California federal judge erred in dismissing with prejudice allegations that Blue Cross of California improperly denied benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it drastically underpaid a claim by an insured (California Spine and Neurosurgery Institute v. Blue Cross of California, No. 19-15192, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20533).

  • July 06, 2020

    American Airlines, ERISA Plan Participants Settle Row Over ‘Mortality Table’

    FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines Inc. and a group of participants in American Airlines defined benefit retirement plans told a Texas federal court on July 1 that they have reached an agreement to settle a dispute over the mortality table used to calculate retirement benefits (Olga Martinez Torres, et al. v. American Airlines, Inc., et al., No. 18-983, N.D. Texas).

  • July 06, 2020

    5th Circuit Denies Bid For Fees, Says ERISA Claimant Needs ‘Success On Merits’

    NEW ORLEANS — A woman who won a “procedural” victory in a federal appeal over an insurer’s partial denial of coverage for hospitalization to treat an eating disorder will have to score a win on the merits of her claim before she seeks an attorney fee award for the cost of that appeal, a panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 29 (Katherine P. v. Humana Health Plan, Inc., No. 19-50276, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20404).

  • July 02, 2020

    Plan Trustees Allege ‘Bad Advice,’ But No Fiduciary Breach, 9th Circuit Affirms

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 23 affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment that a pair of online driving schools failed to show that third-party administrators of the schools’ retirement plans were acting as fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when their advice allegedly led to the an overfunding of the plans (Cheap Easy Online Traffic School, et al., v. Peter L. Huntting & Co., et al., Nos. 19-55055 and 19-55653, Cheap Easy Online Traffic School, et al. v. SMI Pensions, et al., No. 19-55654, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19630).

  • July 02, 2020

    8th Circuit Says Evidence Supports Disability Plan’s Denial Of Benefits

    ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 1 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a disability plan’s decision to deny a claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits was reasonable and supported by substantial evidence (Harry DaPron v. Spire Inc. Retirement Plans Committee, No. 19-2166, 8th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20520).

  • July 02, 2020

    Review Of Excessive Fees Ruling Necessary To Resolve Circuit Split, Plaintiffs Say

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should review a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in which it affirmed dismissal of retirement plan participants’ amended complaint alleging fiduciary breach allegations against Northwestern University under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the circuit courts of appeals are divided on the requirements necessary to plead a violation of ERISA’s duty of prudence based on excessive fees, the plan participants maintain in a June 19 petition for writ of certiorari (April Hughes, et al. v. Northwestern University, et al., No. 19-1401, U.S. Sup.).

  • July 02, 2020

    UnitedHealthcare Breached ERISA, Put Profit Over Teen Patient, Family Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — The father of a young woman suffering from mental health problems filed a June 22 complaint in a California federal court alleging that United Behavioral Health and UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in refusing to pay for residential treatment in favor of “non-existent” partial hospitalization that had moved online in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (Roger Brown v. United Behavioral Health, et al., No. 3:20-cv-04129, N.D. Calif.).

  • July 01, 2020

    Split 9th Circuit Panel Reverses Denial Of Attorney Fees To ERISA Beneficiary

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal court applied the wrong legal standard in denying attorney fees to a woman who successfully challenged an insurance company over long-term disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the majority of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said June 25, adding that the lower court should have asked whether there were any special circumstances that would make the fee award unjust (Debra Herrman v. Lifemap Assurance Co., No. 19-35182, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19947).

  • June 30, 2020

    11th Circuit OKs Dismissal Of Divorcee’s Bid For ERISA Benefits From Delta Plan

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 26 affirmed a lower court’s approval of a denial of benefits from a Delta Air Lines Inc. retirement plan administrator to a woman whose late ex-husband named his sister, and not his ex-wife, as his beneficiary under the ERISA-governed plan (Wanda Crowder v. Delta Air Lines Inc., et al., No. 19-12342, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20004).

  • June 30, 2020

    Department Of Labor In Amicus Brief To 9th Circuit: ERISA Preempts CalSavers

    SAN FRANCISCO — The California-mandated auto-enrollment retirement savings program known as CalSavers makes improper references and connections to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and fails to fall within government exceptions, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) argues in a June 19 amicus curiae brief to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et al. v. California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, et al., No. 20-15591, 9th Cir.).

  • June 29, 2020

    Judge Finds No Error In Parity Act, ERISA Discovery Case Ruling

    SALT LAKE CITY — A magistrate judge did not err in granting discovery into Parity Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act document production issues in a residential treatment case, a federal judge in Utah said June 26 (Jane Doe v. Intermountain Healthcare Inc., et al., No. 18-00807, D. Utah, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112772).

  • June 29, 2020

    3rd Circuit OKs Dismissal Of Union Retirees’ Claims Over ERISA Medical Benefits

    PHILADELPHIA — A group of retired union workers cannot go forward with claims that their former employer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by changing their medical plan, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in a June 19 nonprecedential opinion determining that the workers’ collective bargaining agreement did not give them a right to unalterable lifetime medical benefits (Neil Blankenship, et al. v. Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc., et al., No. 19-3374, 3rd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19186).

  • June 25, 2020

    Discovery Recommended For Pension Plan Trustees’ ERISA Case With Insurer

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal magistrate judge recommended June 22 that trustees of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) pension plan proceed with jurisdictional discovery against a Bermuda reinsurance and insurance company over alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act regarding the failure to make $934 million in withdrawal liability payments (Michael H. Holland, et al. v. Cardem Insurance Company Ltd., No. 19-02362, D. D.C.).

  • June 25, 2020

    U.S. High Court’s Shift On Standing Nixes ERISA Suit, Columbia Trustees Say

    NEW YORK — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York should decertify a class of plaintiffs suing over the alleged mismanagement of a Columbia University retirement plan, trustees of the school argued June 15, citing a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court over standing for claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Chandra Cates, et al. v. Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, No. 16-6524, S.D. N.Y.).

  • June 24, 2020

    2nd Circuit Reinstates Ruling For Plan Participants In IBM Inside Fraud Case

    NEW YORK — In an insider information case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, a Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on June 22 issued a decision reinstating an earlier ruling that participants in a stock option plan for IBM employees had plausibly alleged that plan fiduciaries breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to disclose alleged corporate fraud (Larry W. Jander, et al. v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, et al., No. 17-3518, 2nd Cir.).