CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A professional services exclusion precludes excess coverage of all claims arising from an underlying suit alleging that an insured's failure to administer an inmate's prescribed medication caused his death, a Texas federal judge held May 5 (LCS Corrections Services Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 2:13-CV-287, S.D. Texas; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62033).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A last-minute settlement offer by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) in a smoking wrongful death case was made in bad faith, and the company is therefore not entitled to $41,860 in attorney fees, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 6, affirming holdings of a magistrate judge and a trial judge (Oliver Pickett Jr., as Personal Representative of the Estate of Oliver Pickett Sr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 13-13212, 11th Cir.).
TAMPA, Fla. - Commercial general liability insurers had a duty to defend an insured in an underlying construction defects action, a Florida federal judge ruled May 5, applying the injury-in-fact trigger theory to when the alleged property damage occurred (Voeller Construction Inc. v. Southern-Owners Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-3169, M.D. Fla.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61862).
NEW YORK - The anti?cutback rule in ERISA Section 204(g) precludes plan amendments that reduce retirement-type subsidies for plan participants who ceased employment without satisfying the pre-amendment conditions for the subsidy but who could later satisfy the pre-amendment conditions without returning to work, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed May 1 (Rafael Alcantara, et al. v. Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund Pension Plan, et al., Nos. 12?4834?cv, 12?4839?cv, 12?4851?cv, 12?4861?cv, 12?4912?cv, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8278).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 5 declined to reconsider a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a federal district court properly held that a disability insurer did not abuse its discretion under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by terminating benefits based on medical evidence that post-dated a Social Security Administration (SSA) determination that the claimant was disabled (Susan Nugent v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, No. 13-1182, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON - Massachusetts will abandon its Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchange and purchase an "off-the-shelf" exchange or default to the federal exchange, according to a May 5 press release.
NEW YORK - A health benefits plan that excludes benefits for same sex and domestic partners does not violate Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 510's prohibition of interference with the attainment of benefits, a federal judge in New York ruled May 1 (Jane Roe, et al. v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, et al., No. 12-cv-04788, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61345).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on May 2 preliminarily approved a $190 million antitrust class settlement of allegations that Pfizer Inc. and a predecessor kept generic Neurontin off the market, causing commercial direct buyers to pay more for the brand-name drug (In Re: Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1479, No. 02-1390, Louisiana Wholesale Drug Company, Inc., et al., Nos. 02-1830 and 02-2731, D. N.J.).
TORONTO, Ontario - A resource development company on May 5 said that a recent Ontario court decision has determined that an international arbitration award issued against the Republic of Kyrgyzstan can be recognized and enforced in Ontario.
ATLANTA - The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) on May 2 released a report that concluded that "people who were exposed to hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds emitted by some drywall manufactured in China may have experienced adverse health effects or a reduced quality of life."
MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota federal judge on May 5 partially granted a motion to amend filed by an Israeli corporation and its subsidiary, which sought certain costs and other amounts in relation to their petition to confirm a $2,675,000 arbitration award that was issued in their favor (AVR Communications Ltd., et al. v. American Hearing Systems Inc., d/b/a Interton Inc., No. 13-3027, D. Minn.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61647).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - In an unpublished May 5 opinion, a Minnesota appeals court affirmed a decision denying payment under Medicaid for a plaintiff's long-term care, saying that federal and state law provided coverage only for emergency medical conditions for unqualified "aliens" (Sekou Bamba v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., No. A13-1717, Minn. App.; 2014 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 423).
NEW ORLEANS - The Louisiana Supreme Court on May 2 denied a writ application in a coverage suit regarding the cause of sewage backup and bacterial contamination at an insured home (Matthew Mason, et al. v. Bankers Insurance Group, Nos. 2014-C-0448, 2014-C-0433, La. Sup.).
DENVER - Retaliation in the form of seven promotion denials cannot be proven where seven independent and informed decision makers are involved, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 5, upholding the rejection of a school custodian's lawsuit against his employer (Charles Davis v. Unified School District 500, et al., No. 13-3224, 10th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8389).
DETROIT - The bankrupt City of Detroit on May 5 filed its fourth amended plan for the adjustment of its debts in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which would allow more than $2.82 billion in claims by the groups representing retired employees of the city and the police and fire departments (In Re: City of Detroit, No. 13-53846, Chapter 9, E.D. Mich. Bkcy.).
SEATTLE - A commercial general liability insurance policy's exclusions for damage occurring during an insured's work operations preclude coverage for an underlying breach of contract lawsuit, a Washington appeals panel affirmed May 5 (Western National Assurance Co. v. Shelcon Construction Group LLC, No. 70143-6-I, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 1094).
RICHMOND, Va. - An outsourcing and technology company's former senior manager must arbitrate his age bias claims because he failed to show that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 invalidates an arbitration agreement since the former employee is not a whistle-blower, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 5 (Armand Santoro v. Accenture Federal Services, LLC, et al., No. 12-2561, 4th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8410).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Although an insurer expressed doubts about the necessity of medical treatments that its policyholder obtained after an accident, the Alaska Supreme Court on May 2 found a reasonable inference that the insurer's failure to investigate or act upon these doubts may be evidence that its delay in settling an uninsured motorist (UM) claim was done in bad faith (Jennifer Lockwood v. Geico General Insurance Co., No. S-14552, Alaska Sup.; 2014 Alas. LEXIS 79).
ST. LOUIS - Missouri has successfully challenged an arbitrator's penalty under the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), potentially winning back $50 million in a May 2 state court decision (State of Missouri, ex rel. Jeremiah W. [Jay] Nixon v. The American Tobacco Company, et al., No.22972-01465, Mo. Cir., 22nd Judicial Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed May 5 to transfer an appeal by Motorola Inc., Motorola Mobility LLC and General Instrument Corp. (Motorola, collectively) of an adverse judgment to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola Inc., et al., No. 14-1089, Fed. Cir.).
MOBILE, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on May 5 granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful denial of health care benefits suit, finding that the plaintiff failed to sue the proper parties (Melisa Courtney v. ART Applied Reimbursement Techniques Inc., et al., No. 12-311, S.D. Ala.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61624).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 5 overturned a take-nothing verdict in a workplace injury action, ruling that the trial court erred by instructing the jury about premises liability and that a new trial was warranted (Eihab Elzubier v. Sony Music Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-16245, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8385).
NEW ORLEANS - Finding that a mother did not say that another warning would have changed her mind about giving her daughter Children's Motrin, a Louisiana federal judge on May 5 granted judgment as a matter of law in a Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS/TEN) injury case that last month ended in a mistrial (Keisha Hunt v. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, et al., No. 11-457, E.D. Pa.).
CHICAGO - Efforts by a patent infringement plaintiff to bar expert testimony offered by three defendants partly succeeded May 2, when an Illinois federal judge agreed that some of the opinions expressed "go beyond proper opinion testimony" (The Medicines Company v. Mylan Inc. et al., No. 11-1285, N.D. Ill.).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, sitting en banc on May 5, reversed and remanded a district court ruling and said that it should develop a more thorough factual record supporting carefully considered legal arguments about the impact of 11 U.S. Code Section 903(1) on retiree benefits (City of Pontiac Retired Employees Association v. Louis Schimmel, No. 12-2087, 6th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8392).