ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 9 found that a federal district court erred when it denied a cruise line's motion to compel arbitration of a seaman's claims under his employment contract, vacating an order remanding the case to state court and ordering that the dispute be arbitrated (St. Hugh Williams v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., d.b.a. NCL, No. 11-12150, 11th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13979).
SAN FRANCISCO - A former Office Depot Inc. employee who says that the company's failure to include $50 incentive bonuses in workers' regular pay rates caused him to lose out on 23 cents of overtime pay in the six months he worked there has properly pleaded class action claims, a California federal judge held July 6 in denying the company summary judgment and granting class certification (Howard David Provine v. Office Depot, Inc., No. 11-00903, N.D. Calif.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93881).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on July 5 awarded attorney fees and prejudgment interest under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to a life insurance policy beneficiary who was granted summary judgment on her estoppel and breach of fiduciary duty claims (Susan Kaye Winkelspecht v. Gustave A. Larson Company, et al., No. 10-C-1072, E.D. Wis.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92906).
NEW ORLEANS - A 401(k) service provider is not a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because it did not exercise discretionary authority and, therefore, it was not liable for any damages that might have occurred during an alleged freezing of the plan participants' accounts, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 9 in an unpublished opinion (Sonya Turner, et al. v. Pan American Life Insurance Company, No. 11-31006, 5th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 1396).
CINCINNATI - A pension plan did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by denying a participant's request for a rollover distribution of the balance in his plan to an individual retirement account (IRA), the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 5 in an unpublished opinion, concluding that the plan reasonably interpreted the plan to not authorize a lump-sum distribution to the participant (William J. Scheib v. Retirement Program Plan for Employees of Certain Employers at the U.S. Department of Energy Facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, et al., No. 10-6150, 6th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13751).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 6 vacated the dismissal of a subcontractor's discrimination and breach of contract suit, finding that the trial court must determine in the first instance whether the subcontractor should be granted leave to further amend his complaint or whether such amendment would be futile or inequitable (Martin Gross, Individually and t/d/b/a The Art I Do v. R.T. Reynolds, Inc., et al., No. 11-3917, 3rd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13788).
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Because an international truck rental company "reached out" from its U.S. national headquarters in Arizona to conduct its business and deal with allegations of racism at one of its locations in Tennessee, it is reasonable for a Tennessee federal court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the company in an employment discrimination lawsuit, a Tennessee federal judge held July 6 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. U-Haul International, Inc., et al., No. 2:11-cv-02844, W.D. Tenn.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93371).
RICHMOND, Va. - Surcharge and equitable estoppel are available as potential remedies under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001, to a plan participant who alleges that a plan fiduciary breached its fiduciary duties by withholding premiums for coverage that was not available to the participant under the plan's terms, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 5 on rehearing and in light of CIGNA Corp. v. Amara (131 S.Ct. 1866 (2011). (Debbie McCravy v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Nos. 10-1074, 10-1131, 4th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13683).
SAN FRANCISCO - The administrator of a plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq.,did not abuse its discretion by interpreting the plan's provision that disability benefits would be reduced by pension benefits "received" to include amounts rolled over into an individual retirement account (IRA), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 3 (David Day v. AT&T Disability Income Plan, No. 10-16479, 9th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13558).
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 5 sanctioned Teamsters Local Union No. 523 after finding for the second time that a decision by Interstate Bakeries and the union to place a previously unrepresented employee at the bottom of the seniority roster constituted an unfair labor practice (National Labor Relations Board v. Teamsters Local Union No. 523, Nos. 11-9538 & 11-9542, 10th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13671).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 3 upheld a $150,000 defamation award for a truck driver against his former employer (Machel Liverpool v. Con-Way Freight, et al, No. 11-1528, 2nd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13528).
JACKSON, Miss. - A line worker in an auto plant who lost his job because of his multiple sclerosis drew sympathy from a Mississippi federal judge but still lost his disability discrimination lawsuit against his former employer July 5 (Alexander E. Moore v. Nissan North America, Inc., No. 3:10-cv-569, S.D. Miss.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92697).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A mining company's amendment of its employee bonus plan in response to its employees' union's decision to call "memorial period" work stoppages constituted an unfair labor practice, a split District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 3 (Chevron Mining, Inc., formerly known as The Pittsburgh & Midway Coal Mining Company v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 10-1382, D.C. Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13523).
NEW YORK - A pension plan did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it awarded pension credits based on a 200-day work year for years in which participants worked less than full time, where the plan did not define "year of participation" but previous years' plans defined it as 200 days, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed in a summary order on July 3 (Kenneth Kammerer, et al. v. The Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan, et al., No. 11-2422, 2nd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13541).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Arab Republic of Egypt, the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Embassy of Egypt Cultural and Educational Bureau are not immune under the commercial activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) from a lawsuit brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 2 in an unpublished opinion (Mohamed E. Lasheen v. Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, et al., No. 10-17034, 9th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13477).
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on June 28 reversed an appellate court's arbitration order in a dispute between a school district and its teachers over the conversion of a public school into a charter school (United Teachers of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles Unified School District, No. S177403, Calif. Sup.; 2012 Cal. LEXIS 6164).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Federal Express Corp. did not discriminate against a man who has diabetes by revoking an offer of employment to him because he was unable to get a commercial driver's license due to his disease and, therefore, was not qualified for the job, a Florida federal judge held June 29 (Richard Samson v. Federal Express Corporation, No. 2:11-cv-6, M.D. Fla.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90314).
CINCINNATI - A Section 403(b) plan administrator did not breach its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., by transferring participants' investments from a stable value fund to a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) without the participants' directions to do so, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed June 29 (James Christopher Bidwell, et al. v. University Medical Center, Inc., et al., No. 11-5493, 6th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13306).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on June 27 denied a motion to remand a reimbursement dispute between health care providers and insurance companies, saying that federal law completely preempted one of the claims (Paragon Office Services, et al. v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 11-1898, N.D. Texas; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89044).
PHILADELPHIA - A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 27 affirmed in part and reversed in part an order declining to grant attorney fees in a reimbursement dispute, finding that the lower court erred in failing to determine whether the plaintiffs were entitled to interest on their claim for benefits even though the benefits were paid after the lawsuit was initiated (Christopher Templin, et al. v. Independence Blue Cross, et al., Nos. 11-2453, 11-3583, 3rd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13163).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A former community college employee's claim against a county that the college retaliated against her for complaining about alleged gender discrimination fails because she did not exhaust her administrative remedies against the county, but her claim against the college stands because she properly states a claim for retaliatory discrimination, a New York federal judge held June 28 (Leah S. Torregiano v. Monroe County, et al., No. 11-cv-6300, W.D. N.Y.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89971).
PHILADELPHIA - Enterprise Holdings Inc., the sole shareholder of 38 domestic subsidiaries, is not a "joint employer" of its subsidiaries' assistant branch managers, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 28, upholding a trial court's dismissal of the parent company from a wage-and-hour multidistrict litigation (In Re: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Employment Practices Litigation, No. 11-2883, 3rd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13229).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 27 upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by several Maryland volunteer fire departments and their former administrative employees over county budget cuts that resulted in the elimination of 20 administrative support positions (Kensington Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County, Maryland, et al., No. 11-1659, 4th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13155).
CHICAGO - A federal magistrate judge in Illinois on June 26 granted final approval to a $9.5 million settlement between Kraft Foods Global Inc. and participants in its 401(k) plan on claims that plan fiduciaries violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by allowing excessive fees, holding excessive cash within the plan's company stock funds and offering imprudent funds as investment options (Gerald George, et al. v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., et al., Nos. 1:08-cv-03799, 1:07-cv-1713, N.D. Ill.). Subscribers may view the final order and judgment available within the full article.
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on June 26 denied LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group Inc.'s second motion to dismiss a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) class complaint by employees who were fired by their employers or potential employers based on background checks conducted by LexisNexis (Keesha Goode, et al. v. LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group, Inc., No. 11-2950, E.D. Pa.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87770).