ST. PAUL, Minn. — A participant who calls Wells Fargo & Co.’s 401(k) employee retirement plan “one of the largest defined contribution plans in the country” has adequately pleaded claims that the bank breached its fiduciary duty and engaged in prohibited transactions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a Minnesota federal judge ruled May 12, denying a motion to dismiss the putative class action.
PHILADELPHIA — A federal district court correctly granted summary judgment on a counterclaim for equitable disgorgement of Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed incentive investment plan payments against a former employee who violated the plan’s noncompete provision, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 7, also affirming the court’s grant of summary judgment in the employer’s favor on a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation claim and other orders challenged by the employee.
TAMPA, Fla. — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 11 dismissed two appeals filed by the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan and the NFL Player Disability and Neurocognitive Benefit Plan after determining that district court’s orders remanding a former National Football League player’s disability claim and awarding the player attorney fees are not final and appealable orders.
ST. LOUIS — A man who sued his long-term disability (LTD) provider for retroactive benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), saw his quest to take discovery beyond the administrative record denied May 10, with a Missouri federal magistrate judge finding the requested discovery unnecessary to consider a purported conflict of interest between two physicians’ medical opinions.
CHICAGO — Most retirement plan participants’ claims that plan fiduciaries breached their duties in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by selecting proprietary collective investment trusts (CITs) and other actions survive after a federal judge in Illinois on April 13 partly granted and partly denied the fiduciaries’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
NEW ORLEANS — Various nonprofits filed four amicus curiae briefs on April 23 in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals joining briefs filed earlier in the month by a number of states and various states’ insurance departments supporting arguments by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Labor secretary and the United States that a trial court erred when it reviewed a DOL advisory opinion that was not a final agency action and issued an injunction barring the DOL from denying that the plan in question was an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan.
PHILADELPHIA — Wawa Inc. will pay more than $26 million to settle class action breach of fiduciary duty claims stemming from decisions to remove ex-employees from an ERISA-governed employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), including an award of attorney fees of 20% of the recovery, under a settlement that was granted final approval on April 21 by a federal judge in Pennsylvania.
NEWARK, N.J. — Participants and beneficiaries in a Quest Diagnostics Inc. defined-contribution retirement plan adequately stated claims against its fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and alternatively for breach of trust, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled in a May 4 unpublished opinion, denying a motion to dismiss the putative class complaint that challenges management fees and funds included in the plan.
CHICAGO — In a May 6 minute order, a federal judge in Illinois in a breach of fiduciary duty case warned parties that a discovery extension would not be granted based on a desire to wait for in-person depositions; the entry came approximately three weeks after the same judge narrowed the claims in the case that accuses an employer, its retirement plan committee and others of improperly retaining the investment managers’ proprietary collective investment trusts which allegedly underperformed and charged unreasonable fees and failing to properly monitor the fiduciaries.
SAN FRANCISCO — The state-run IRA program California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (CalSavers) is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on May 6, citing reasons including that CalSavers is not “established or maintained by an employer” and noting that while other states have enacted similar programs, “[t]o our knowledge, this is the first case challenging such a program on ERISA preemption grounds.”
DAVENPORT, Iowa — The named plaintiff in a class action Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit filed notice on May 4 that he is appealing to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals a federal court’s opinion and order that found that a 401(k) service provider did not breach its fiduciary duty of loyalty or engage in self-dealing because it used a reasonable process in setting the crediting rate for a guaranteed return insurance product offered to plan participants.
NEW YORK — A Connecticut federal court correctly reviewed a denial of benefits under an abuse of discretion standard because the life insurance plan had delegated discretionary authority to the insurer, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 4, affirming summary judgment against the beneficiary of a man who died of a blood clot while on a flight.
HOUSTON — Texas law clearly rejects the creation of an implied right of action in the state’s emergency care law, but a certified question to the Texas Supreme Court is unwarranted anyway because a federal appeals court can decide the case on the question of preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, an insurer argues in a May 3 response to a request that the Fifth Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals certify a question.
CINCINNATI — A Michigan federal court impermissibly rewrote federal regulations to find that a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to pay Medicare-like rates for hospital services under a health care plan for tribal members, the tribe says in a May 3 brief on appeal for the second time in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
NEW YORK — Following a federal district court’s approval of a $250,000 class settlement on the only surviving claim in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit by participants in two Cornell University retirement plans against Cornell and fiduciaries of those plans, the participants argue in an April 28 brief to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the district court erred in dismissing other claims.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 3 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a plan participant who sought a ruling on what triggers the fraud and concealment exception in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to extend the three-year statute of limitations to six after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals deemed his breach of fiduciary case against employer Lockheed Martin Corp. time-barred.
SEATTLE — A March Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruling that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not preempt a Seattle ordinance that requires large hotels to spend certain amounts on health coverage for their employees is wrong because the circuit’s controlling Golden Gate Rest. Ass’n v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco decision is wrong, a trade association argues in an April 30 petition for rehearing en banc, framing the case as a chance for the court to resolve a circuit split and conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent by revisiting and overruling Golden Gate.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court in its May 3 order list turned away a petition for a writ of certiorari from Wells Fargo & Co. plan participants asking it to resolve a lower court divide on interpreting Fifth Third Corp. v. Dudenhoeffer and whether under the 2014 decision employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) fiduciaries “are effectively immune from duty-of-prudence liability for the failure to publicly disclose inside information” where such a disclosure would cause a stock drop.
NEW YORK — A pension plan administrator’s Residual Annuity Amendment (RAA) addressed a potential forfeiture of benefits participants accrued under the plan’s prior formula when they elected a lump sum payment, the plan administrator, employee relations committee and committee members argue in their page-proof reply brief filed April 26 in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking reversal of a summary judgment ruling for the participants that the appellants say denied the committee “its discretion to interpret Plan language” and would sanction them for an alleged Employee Retirement Income Security Act violation that had “already been resolved.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Passively managed funds are not meaningful benchmarks for actively managed funds, a California federal judge ruled April 15, dismissing without further leave to amend for failure to state a claim 401(k) retirement plan participants’ allegations that the plan fiduciaries breached their duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.