NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 partially vacated the rejection of a former Texas county employee's suit over her termination and remanded, ordering the district court to decide whether it should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's appeal of her grievance denied by the Nueces County Civil Service Commission (Maria Angela Vasquez v. Nueces County, Texas, No. 13-40453, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 25220).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma's new workers' compensation law, which will take effect on Feb. 1, 2014, stands as is, a divided Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Dec. 16, rejecting a constitutional challenge brought by a member of the state Senate, a member of the state House of Representatives and the Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma and its president (The Honorable Harry E. Coates, et al. v. The Honorable Mary Fallin, et al., No. 112167, Okla. Sup.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Dec. 16 remanded a reimbursement dispute to state court, holding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act did not preempt the state law claims (Bay Area Surgical Management v. United Healthcare Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-2512, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176682).
HELENA, Mont. - A split Montana Supreme Court on Dec. 13 upheld a state court's order defining the class in a suit challenging the denial of a preauthorization request for a medical procedure but reversed and remanded with respect to the court's certification of the plaintiffs' claim as to "$(w$)hether the State of Montana breached its contract" and remanded to allow the court to consider whether a question could be presented where individual questions would not predominate (Steve Sangwin, et al. v. State of Montana, et al., No. 12-0712, Mont. Sup.; 2013 Mont. LEXIS 496).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 16 denied review of a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling vacating denial of class certification to retirement plans' participants on their claims that the plans' fiduciaries breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by investing in a stable-value fund (SVF) that did not result in a rate of return that was sufficient for a retirement asset (Lockheed Martin Corp., et al. v. Anthony Abbott, et al., No. 13-447, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Dec. 16 that the contractual limitations provision of a disability benefits plan that requires participants to bring suit within three years after "proof of loss" is due is enforceable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, even if the limitations period commences before the plan resolved the claim for benefits (Julie Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., et al., No. 12-729, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 13 agreed to review a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Fifth Third Bancorp and its employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) trustees breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by continuing to offer company stock as a retirement plan investment option at a time when the bank was engaged in subprime lending (Fifth Third Bancorp, et al. v. John Dudenhoeffer, et al., No. 12-751, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA - A clothing chain employee failed to show that her hours were cut or that she was constructively discharged as a result of her bipolar disorder or narcolepsy, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 11 (Cary Moore Menzie v. Ann Taylor Retail Inc., No. 13-11277, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24605).
BOSTON - Because a short-term disability (STD) benefits recipient did not pursue the review process available after her insurer terminated benefits payments, a Massachusetts federal judge on Dec. 9 found that her claims against her insurer and employer must be dismissed per the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Linda Pingiaro v. Standard Insurance Co., et al., No. 1:13-cv-10094, D. Mass.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172690).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 10 partially reinstated a class complaint filed by former employees of a now-bankrupt retail chain who allege that the companies that took control of the chain following the bankruptcy violated the Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act (WARN) (Michael Guippone, et al. v. BH S&B Holdings LLC, et al., No. 12-183, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24560).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 5 upheld the rejection of an argument by an adult novelty store that two employees seeking unpaid overtime were not entitled to any compensation or attorney fees after the employees rejected the employer's attempt to pay them a settlement amount determined by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) (Shannon Owens, et al. v. Marstek, L.L.C., et al., No. 13-10347, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24188).
SAN FRANCISCO - A split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 5 partially vacated a California federal court's attorney fees award in an employment bias suit and remanded for reconsideration of fees for a paralegal (Kim Muniz v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 11-17282, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24189).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Less than a month after hearing oral arguments, a split U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 10 dismissed the appeal of a suit over an agreement between an employer and union regarding access to the premises, employee information, monetary support for a ballot initiative and a promise not to picket (Unite Here Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall, et al., No. 12-99, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA - A food company sales broker is not entitled to receive overtime pay under federal law, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 6, upholding a trial court's decision (Jerry Robin Reyes, et al. v. Goya Foods, Inc., d.b.a. Goya Foods of Florida, No. 13-12827, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24257).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal district court's decision on the merits that leaves unresolved a request for contractual attorney fees is a final decision subject to immediate appeal, an employer told the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 9 in urging the court to overturn a ruling by the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Ray Haluch Gravel Co., et al. v. Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating Employers, et al., No. 12-992, U.S. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) was right to rule in favor of the Internal Revenue Service regarding a proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) amendment affecting probationary employees, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 6 after determining that the National Treasury Employees Union's (NTEU) amendment would "ignore both the statutory and regulatory frameworks that Congress and the executive branch have put in place, create a stark circuit split, and overturn nearly thirty years of settled public-employee practice" (National Treasury Employees Union v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. 12-2574, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24298).
TRENTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court on Dec. 6 denied a petition for certification of a Superior Court ruling that Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 514(a) expressly preempts a medical provider's claims against the ERISA plan for payment of the provider's customary fees for the services it rendered to patients, rather than the discounted fees the plan would have been legally entitled to pay had it not breached its contractual obligation for timely payment (St. Peter's University Hospital v. New Jersey Building Laborers Statewide Welfare Fund, et al. v. Union Labor Life Insurance Company, No. C-224 September Term 2013, N.J. Sup.).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Dec. 6 that a disability plan participant who was awarded benefits under Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 502(a)(1)(b) was also entitled to an equitable award of $3.79 million in disgorged profits under Section 502(a)(3) (Todd R. Rochow, et al. v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 12-2074, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24271).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado ruled Dec. 3 that the third-party administrator of the NFL Player Insurance Plan abused its discretion in denying claims for chiropractic treatment as being work-related without considering the medical provider's opinion (Nelson Vetanze v. NFL Player Insurance Plan, No. 1:11-cv-02734, D. Colo.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170312).
RALEIGH, N.C. - A workers' compensation commission properly admitted the testimony of a veterinarian on the issue of animal studies in an asbestos-related esophageal cancer case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held Dec. 3 (Paulette Smith Wise, executor of the estate of Harvey Smith v. Alcoa Inc., No. COA13-29, N.C. App.; 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 1235).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 25 affirmed the dismissal of an action Indian stateroom workers filed against a cruise line to vacate an arbitration award, finding that the action was barred under a three-month limitation period (Agnelo Gonsalvez, et al. v. Celebrity Cruises Inc., 13-11189, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 23629).
ATLANTA - A chaplain resident who was fired by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) failed to prove pretext because the supervisor who allegedly made a biased statement did not participate in the termination decision, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 25 (Bernard Campbell v. Eric Shinseki, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, No. 13-11974, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 23611).
PHILADELPHIA - A former customer service representative failed to prove her claims of race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 25 (Leandra Allen v. Nutrisystem, Inc., No. 13-2505, 3rd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 23627).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 21 affirmed a ruling that a coffee chain's policy of allowing shift supervisors to participate in tip pooling does not violate New York Labor Law Section 196-d (Jeana Barenboim, et al. v. Starbucks Corporation, No. 10-4912, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 23370).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Nov. 21 granted preliminary approval of a $415,000 settlement in a class complaint seeking reimbursement for managers employed by a chain of home goods stores who were not reimbursed when they used their personal vehicles for business purposes (Sean Boring, et al. v. Bed Bath & Beyond of California Limited Liability Company, No. 12-5259, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165909).