TAMPA, Fla. — A former employee’s age discrimination claim is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the Florida Civil Rights Act provides an independent legal basis for the age discrimination claim, a Florida federal judge said April 20 in denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss (John Morton v. Nexagen Networks Inc., et al., No. 18-386, M.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66521).
PHILADELPHIA — The American Council on Education, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Benefits Council filed amicus curiae briefs on April 12 in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, supporting a lower court’s dismissal of claims filed by a group of University of Pennsylvania Matching Plan participants and beneficiaries against the University of Pennsylvania and the university's vice president of human resources (Jennifer Sweda, et al. v. University of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 17-3244, 3rd Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 10 denied an interlocutory appeal by Prudential Insurance Company of America filed pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act seeking a ruling on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)’s predominance requirement and the trial court’s interpretation of the term “one sum” in a lawsuit over life insurance policies (Clark R. Huffman, et al. v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 18-8012, 3rd Cir.).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina federal judge on April 13 granted a motion to certify a class of current and former participants in a Duke University retirement plan who sued alleging excessive fees and the inclusion of imprudent investment funds (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62532).
ATLANTA — In an April 12 class action complaint filed in Georgia federal court, participants in The Home Depot’s 401(k) retirement plan allege that Home Depot breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by mismanaging the company’s 401(k) retirement plan at a cost of more than $140 million in losses to plan participants (Jaime H. Pizarro, et al. v. The Home Depot Inc., et al., No. 18-1566, N.D. Ga.).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 11 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a pension plan participant’s suit after determining that an amendment to the pension plan’s calculation of retirement income credits does not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s anti-cutback rule because the amendment is actually favorable to the plan participant and did not cause a decrease in the plan participant’s accrued benefit (James P. Teufel v. The Northern Trust Co., et al., Nos. 17-1676, 17-1677, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 9033).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 13 affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of a disability insurer after determining that the disability claimant’s suit seeking long-term disability benefits fails because the claimant did not exhaust all administrative remedies before filing suit (William Kennedy v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 17-5901, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 9214).
MIAMI — A drug treatment and urinalysis facility on April 12 asked a federal judge in Florida for sanctions and an order compelling production of documents from a second addiction treatment facility’s former medical director, saying failure to comply with a subpoena warranted the relief. The judge dismissed the center’s ERISA and state law claims just days before, saying the allegations lacked sufficient specificity to determine contract details (Living Tree Laboratories LLC v. United Healthcare Services Inc., et al. v. A New Start Inc., et al., No. 16-24680, S.D. Fla.).
ATLANTA — A flight attendant who left her job following a permanent injury because she believed that she had been able to retire, but later found out that her departure had been classified as a resignation, failed to provide a sufficient pro se complaint to proceed with claims of disability discrimination, retaliation and interference with her retiree benefits, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 4, affirming a trial court’s decision (Burdette Lowe v. Delta Air Lines Inc., No. 17-13579, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8763).
CINCINNATI — A worker who was fired after he failed to return to work following a surgery, allegedly due to confusion over his doctor’s order, failed to prove his Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim but may proceed with his claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that his firing was motivated by high costs associated with his son’s medical care, a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 9 (Robert C. Stein v. Atlas Industries, Inc., No. 17-3737, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8874).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on March 26 reversed an arbitrator's decision that the “Segal Blend” was the appropriate discount rate to calculate The New York Times Co.’s withdrawal liability from a multiemployer pension plan, affirming the remainder of the arbitrator’s findings (The New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers'-Publishers' Pension Fund, et al., Nos. 17-6178 and 17 -6290, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49813).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 13 vacated and remanded a district court’s denial of attorney fees to employee plan participants after determining that the lower court’s denial of attorney fees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act is not supported by the record (Edward Brasley, et al. v. Fearless Farris Service Stations Inc., et al., No. 16-35519, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6229).
ATLANTA — A medical insurance provider and its subsidiaries filed suit on March 28 in Georgia federal court against a hospital and its related entities, seeking restitution under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for the hospital’s alleged fraudulent billing of laboratory services that were never performed by the hospital (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Inc., et al. v. DL Investment Holdings LLC, et al., No. 18-1304, N.D. Ga.).
COVINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on April 4 dismissed an employee pension plan fiduciary’s counterclaim that the plan falls under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s “church plan” exemption, finding that the counterclaim served no purpose, and narrowed the claims against individual former members of the committee named as the fiduciary, ruling that the plan participants may proceed with just two claims against them in their proposed class action complaint (Dolores Jane Boden, et al. v. St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Inc., et al., No. 16-49, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57434).
NEW YORK — In preparation for trial scheduled to begin April 16 in a lawsuit accusing New York University (NYU) of breaching its duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in its administration and management of its retirement plan, a New York federal judge on April 5 granted in part and denied in part motions in limine and denied four separate motions under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), to exclude expert testimony and evidence (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, No. 16-6284, S.D. N.Y.)
PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania and the university’s vice president of human resources, both named fiduciaries of the University of Pennsylvania Matching Plan, did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by offering numerous options, including some with high fees, as the university’s plan offers a larger mix of options, with lower fees, than the plan signed off on by the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Renfro v. Unisys Corp., the university and vice president argue in their appellee brief filed on April 5 in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Jennifer Sweda, et al. v. University of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 17-3244, 3rd Cir.).
ST. LOUIS — Plan participants who have accused Edward D. Jones & Co. L.P. (Edward Jones) and two committees of managing a profit-sharing and 401(k) plan in a manner that benefited the company and not the participants may proceed with their claims as “[t]he amended complaint is far from a ‘kitchen sink’ or ‘shotgun’ pleading in which a plaintiff brings every conceivable claim against every conceivable defendant,” a Missouri federal judge opined March 27, denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss (Valeska Schultz, et al. v. Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P., et al., No. 16-1346, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49948).
ST. LOUIS — A wife whose husband died two days after he transferred his employee stock ownership plan benefits to his trust and a day before the trust received the benefits has no claim to the benefits, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 3 (Susan Wengert v. Theresa A. Rajendran, et al., No. 16-4571, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8386).
MIAMI — A man’s suit claiming that his son received medically necessary autism treatment and that he tried unsuccessfully to engage his insurer in the claim process adequately alleges exhaustion of administrative remedies and is specific enough to support an Employee Retirement Income Security Act claim, a federal judge in Florida held April 2 (Stephen A. Marino Jr. v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc., et al., No. 17-22886, S.D. Fla.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on March 30 granted in part and denied in part Yale University’s motion to dismiss claims in a putative class action alleging that the university, as sponsor of a defined contribution retirement plan, breached its duties of loyalty and prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing plan participants to pay millions of dollars in unreasonable and excessive administrative fees (Joseph Vellali, et al. v. Yale University, et al., No. 16-1345, D. Conn.).