LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
    New Jersey Federal Judge Declines Class Certification In Reimbursement Dispute

    NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 16 declined to certify two classes in a reimbursement lawsuit filed against a health care insurer, a database company and the database's parent company (Darlery Franco v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 07-6039, D. N.J.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6482).

    High Court Denies Review In ERISA Preemption Case Involving Insurance Premiums

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals interlocutory decision ruling that ERISA Section 502(a) does not preempt a cause of action challenging allegedly excessive insurance premiums under Montana's unfair-insurance-practices law (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Inc. v. Dale Fossen, et al., No. 11-1155, U.S. Sup.).

    2nd Circuit Enforces NLRB Ruling That Employer Must Bargain Policy Change

    NEW YORK - A New York utility company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it stopped allowing its union members to take company vehicles home at night without first bargaining the change, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 17 (Local Union 36, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 10-3448, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 1139).

    11th Circuit Upholds Denial Of Prison Transport Supervisor's Age Bias Suit

    ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 17 upheld the denial of a prison transport supervisor's age bias claim, finding that the plaintiff failed to show that the project manager's discriminatory animus was the "but-for" cause of his termination or that the project manager acted as a mere cat's paw for the assistant project manager's discriminatory animus (Solomon Sims, Jr. v. MVM, Inc., No. 11-14481, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 1130).

    Illinois Federal Judge: Sales Rep's Evidence Defeats Summary Judgment

    PEORIA, Ill. - A retail sales representative provided enough direct evidence to allow his age discrimination claim against his former employer to be decided by a jury, an Illinois federal judge held Jan. 15 in denying the employer's bid for summary judgment (Michael R. Tuttle v. Serv-U-Success, No. 10-1426, C.D. Ill.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5514).

    California Federal Judge Again Denies Dismissal Of Class Claims In Dukes

    SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Jan. 14 denied a motion by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to reconsider dismissing or striking regionalized class allegations in a more than decade-old gender discrimination suit (Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 01-2252, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5411).

    Bank Of America Prevails On Defined Benefit And 401(k) Fiduciary Duty Claims

    RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 14 that participants in Bank of America's 401(k) plan are time-barred by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act from maintaining claims that the plans' fiduciaries engaged in prohibited transactions and breached their fiduciary duties by selecting bank-affiliated mutual funds as investment options for the plans and that participants in the bank's defined benefit pension plan lack Article III standing to maintain such claims (Elena M. David, et al. v. J. Steele Alphin, et al., No. 11-2181, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 987).

    Federal Judge Dismisses Denial Of Benefits Claims, Allows Amendment For 2 Others

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Jan. 14 sua sponte dismissed a previous order granting partial dismissal of claims by medical providers alleging that health insurers violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by granting preapproval for medical procedures then denying coverage and dismissed all the claims, granting leave to amend two of the four claims asserted (Sanctuary Surgical Centre Inc., et al. v. UnitedHealthcare Inc., et al., No. 10-81589, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5497).

    PBGC Properly Denied Shutdown Benefits, D.C. Circuit Rules

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) did not abuse its discretion in denying participants' requests for "shutdown" pension benefits, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 11 (United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC, et al., v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, No. 12-5116, D.C. Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 731).

    10th Circuit Partially Reinstates Suit Over Failure To Promote

    DENVER - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 15 partially reinstated a lawsuit by two female employees accusing their employer of failing to promote them and other female workers (Ronica R. Tabor, et al. v. Hilti, Inc., et al., No. 11-5131, 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 984).

    U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments On U.S. Immunity From Battery Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The intentional tort exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) was never intended to apply to "any cause of action arising out of a wrongful act or omission in the performance of medical functions," attorney James A. Feldman of Washington, D.C., told the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 15 (Steven Alan Levin v. United States, et al., No. 11-1351, U.S. Sup.).

    8th Circuit Upholds Imposition Of Adverse Inference Jury Instruction

    ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri committed a harmless error in imposing an adverse inference jury instruction against a former Hallmark Cards Inc. employee for her deletion of the company information she retained after her termination because the evidence on the record indicated that her actions were done in bad faith and prejudiced the company, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 15 (Hallmark Cards Inc. v. Janet L. Murley, No. 11-2855, 8th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 917).

    Car Washer's Racial Bias Claims Survive Summary Judgment

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A former car dealership employee presented sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment on his allegations that he was regularly called "***" by his supervisor and was fired soon after complaining about the racial comments, an Indiana federal judge ruled Jan. 11 (James Davis v. Lakeside Motor Company, Inc., d/b/a Harbor Chrysler Jeep Dodge, No. 3:10-cv-405, N.D. Ind.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5136).

    Judge: Trucking Company Must Produce Program Used To Calculate Compensation

    OMAHA, Neb. - A federal judge in Nebraska on Jan. 11 ordered a defendant company in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) class action lawsuit to produce a copy of a computer program it uses to calculate compensation for student drivers, as well as the source code for the program, because the information is relevant (Phillip Petrone, et al. v. Werner Enterprises Inc., d/b/a Werner Trucking, et al., No. 11CV401, D. Neb.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4583).

    9th Circuit Upholds Termination Of Disabled Store Manager

    SAN FRANCISCO - A luxury products retailer acted within its rights when it terminated a store manager who was unable to perform the basic functions of her job, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 11, affirming a trial court (Cynthia Lawler v. Montblanc North America, LLC, et al., No. 11-16206, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 761).

    Magistrate Judge Rejects Company's Request For Forensic Imaging Of Devices

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal magistrate judge in Ohio on Jan. 11 denied a defendant company's request for permission to take forensic images of a former employee's electronic devices to search for electronically stored information (ESI) after finding it unnecessary because the plaintiff agreed to produce the information in a static format (Patricia German v. Micro Electronics Inc., No. 12-cv-292, S.D. Ohio; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4594).

    Michigan Federal Judge: Jury Must Decide Bias Claims Against College

    FLINT, Mich. - A former college library worker presents sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to infer that her former supervisors harassed her, retaliated against her and fired her because she is a black woman, a Michigan federal judge held Jan. 11 in denying the library's bid for summary judgment on the woman's discrimination claims (Karen Heard v. Board of Trustees of The Jackson Community College, et al., No. 11-cv-13051, E.D. Mich.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4490).

    Alabama Federal Judge: Tribal Casino Immune From Former Worker's Claims

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A former employee of a casino operated by an Indian tribe cannot pursue her claims alleging unpaid workers' compensation benefits and retaliation against the casino because the tribe has sovereign immunity, an Alabama federal judge ruled Jan. 10 (Pamela Sanderford v. Creek Casino Montgomery, No. 2:12-cv-455, M.D. Ala.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3750).

    7th Circuit Affirms Denial Of Attorney Fees To Prevailing ERISA Claimant

    CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 8 in an unpublished order ruled that a disability claimant was not entitled to attorney fees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a case in which, upon rehearing, the Seventh Circuit ruled that an insurer's termination of benefits based on the disability plan's self-reporting symptoms limitation clause was arbitrary and capricious (Susie Weitzenkamp v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 12-1291, 7th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 463).

    Unpaid Overtime Class Claims 'Plausible,' New York Federal Judge Rules

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Class action claims that a child services business does not pay employees overtime in violation of federal and state law are pleaded with sufficient facts to meet the plausibility standard of the seminal Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly (550 U.S. 544, 555 $(2007$)), a New York federal judge held Jan. 10 (Mary Peck, et al. v. Hillside Children's Center, et al., No. 11-cv-6545l, W.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3955).

    Plan Failed To Provide Full And Fair Review Of Benefit Denial, 5th Circuit Holds

    NEW ORLEANS - A health benefits plan that changed its basis for denying coverage on administrative appeal did not substantially comply with procedures for reviewing denial-of-benefits decisions set out in Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 8, in remanding to the federal district court for remand to the plan for a full and fair review (Lucas Rossi v. Precision Drilling Oilfield Services Corporation Employee Benefits Plan, No. 11-50861, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. 702).

    10th Circuit: Settlement Agreement Is Enforceable With Or Without Signature

    DENVER - A settlement agreement reached between an employee and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in an age discrimination suit is enforceable even though the employee refused, in the end, to sign the written agreement, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 8 (Bennie L. Walters v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al., No. 11-5130, 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 466).

    ERISA Prudence Claims Related To Madoff Scheme Continue; Other Claims Dismissed

    NEW YORK - Pension funds sufficiently alleged that a hedge fund and its managers breached their fiduciary duties of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by investing pension plan assets in funds that suffered major losses as a result of the Ponzi scheme perpetuated by Bernard L. Madoff, a federal judge in New York ruled Jan. 7 (In re Meridian Funds Group Securities and Employee Retirement Income Security Act $(ERISA$) Litigation, No. 09-md-02082, S.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2806).

    4th Circuit Upholds Denial Of UPS Driver's Pregnancy Bias Suit

    RICHMOND, Va. - A driver failed to prove that her employer, United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS), discriminated against her because of her race, gender or pregnancy when it took her off the job as a result of doctor-imposed lifting restrictions related to her pregnancy, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 9 (Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al., No. 11-2078, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 530).

    Pa. Court Finds Employee Properly Fired For Violating Computer Use Policy

    HARRISBURG, Pa. - A terminated employee failed to show that his employer's policy prohibiting Internet and email use for personal purposes was not clearly established and not uniformly enforced, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel found Jan. 4, upholding a compensation board's denial of unemployment benefits to the worker (Dominic G. Canale Jr. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 1549 C.D. 2012, Pa. Cmwlth; 2013 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 9).