WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 22 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by disability plan administrators claiming that a district court and the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow prior decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in disability insurance cases when determining that a claimant's benefits claim was "deemed denied" (Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., et al. v. Janet Solnin, No. 16-1238, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - The majority of a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 affirmed a district court's judgment of more than $580,000 in past disability benefits in favor of a disability claimant after determining that the plan did not specify any type of job the claimant is capable of performing (Cathleen Kennedy v. The Lilly Extended Disability Plan, No. 16-2314, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8738).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 17 sued Ruby Tuesday Inc. in Florida federal court, alleging that it violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by failing to hire a man for a vacant general manager position at its Boca Raton, Fla., location because of his age (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ruby Tuesday Inc., No. 0:17-cv-60970, S.D. N.Y.).
DENVER - A Colorado federal judge on May 17 found that a professional liability insurer has a duty to defend two out of three insureds against underlying claims that they operated as a cartel and colluded to fix standard au pair wages (Colony Insurance Co. v. Expert Group International Inc., et al., No.15-02499, D. Colo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75073).
PHILADELPHIA - Two wage claims brought by a proposed class of nursing assistants don't depend on disputed interpretations of provisions in their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a split Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 18, upholding a denial of arbitration (Tymeco Jones, et al. v. John Does 1-10, et al., No. 16-1101, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8695).
BAY CITY, Mich. - If an Indian tribe prevails on its claim that its health care plan administrator violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging hidden fees and pursues prejudgment interest, its expert on calculating the interest amount can offer his analysis at trial, a Michigan federal judge ruled May 16, while also blocking the tribe's request for discovery in the interest rate dispute (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56562).
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on May 16 remanded a class suit accusing Costco Wholesale Corp. of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to provide a full and correct disclosure when requesting authorization to conduct background checks of job applicants, finding that a lack of subject matter jurisdiction warranted sending it back to state court and not dismissing it (Julius Terrell v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 16-1415, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74567).
ATLANTA - In a case of first impression, a three-judge 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 16 that a corrugated packaging and paper company could not sue a multiemployer pension plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the statute does not allow employers to sue over certain pension fund changes (WestRock RKT Co. v. Pace Industry Union-Management Pension Fund, et al., No. 16-16443, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8569).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 11 affirmed a district court's ruling after determining that a long-term disability (LTD) claim was properly denied because the claimant failed to provide any objective medical findings in support of the claim for benefits (Tricia Z. Cooper v. Intel Corporation Long Term Disability Plan, No. 14-35745, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8380).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on May 11 granted preliminary approval of a $2 million settlement proposed by Costco Wholesale Corp. to end truck drivers' wage claims, less than a month after the same judge rejected the proposed settlement for the second time; however, the judge noted that the class counsel has undermined its credibility (Douglas Thompson, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., No. 14-2778, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72389).
SAN DIEGO - A class action waiver that was part of the arbitration agreement between the owner of Papa John's Pizza franchises and an employee who filed a class complaint is invalid because it precludes the employee from engaging in at least one of the three types of concerted actions the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects, a California federal judge ruled May 11 (Peter Ross v. P.J. Pizza San Diego, LLC, et al., No. 16-2330, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72411).
NEW YORK - A former fashion house intern suing for unpaid wages has failed to show that judicial interests weigh in favor of sending her class complaint back to federal court, a New York federal judge ruled May 12, leaving open the option for the plaintiff file a new application to remand in the future (Monica Ramirez, et al. v. Oscar de la Renta, LLC, No. 16-7855, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72781).
PEORIA, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on May 12 ruled that a class complaint accusing a fast food restaurant of failing to pay managers overtime survives dismissal because its claims are sufficiently different from another wage suit filed first in Missouri federal court against the same defendant; however, the Illinois judge ruled that the governing principles favor a motion to transfer the case to Missouri (Corinna Clendenen, et al. v. Steak N Shake Operations, Inc., No. 17-1045, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72588).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 reversed and remanded a Virginia federal judge's ruling that a benefits director's Employee Retirement Income Security Act claim failed to allege that he testified or gave information in any "inquiry or proceeding," saying that the prudent course of action is to allow for greater factual development before delving into critical questions of statutory interpretation (Roberto Trujillo v. Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC, et al., No. 16-1264, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8361).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 15 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a California city seeking reversal of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the city erred when it failed to include payment for unused benefits when calculating its police officers' overtime rates (City of San Gabriel, California v. Danny Flores, et al., No. 16-911, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 10 instructed a trial court to vacate its judgment in favor of a police department in a class dispute over covering police officers' tattoos as moot after the matter was resolved in favor of the officers by an arbitrator (Daniel Medici, et al. v. City of Chicago, No. 15-3610, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8312).
BOSTON - Deciding two questions of first impression in its circuit, a divided First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 12 ruled that the applicability of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) is a threshold question for a court to determine in a case where the parties have delegated questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator and that the FAA's exemption of employment contracts of transportation workers applies to independent contractor transportation worker agreements (Dominic Oliveira, et al. v. New Prime, Inc., No. 15-2364, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8474).
RICHMOND, Va. - After a rehearing, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 affirmed that a federal judge correctly ruled that health benefits for United Steel Workers retirees of a West Virginia aluminum manufacturer did not vest and were properly altered unilaterally by the company because union contracts expressly provided that the benefits remained in effect only for the term of the contracts, which had expired (Ronald Barton, et al v. Constellium Rolled Products-Ravenswood, LLC, et al., No. 16-1103, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8357).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 11 reversed a district court's ruling in favor of a disability insurer after determining that the district court applied the wrong standard of review pursuant to California law (Talana Orzechowski v. The Boeing Company Non-Union Long-Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 14-55919, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8348).
ST. LOUIS - After a rehearing, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 reversed and remanded a Minnesota federal judge's ruling denying General Mills Inc.'s motion to compel individual arbitration, again finding that 33 laid-off General Mills workers must have their age discrimination claims decided in arbitration individually, and not as a class, and that they are not entitled to declaratory judgment regarding their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the judgment would not resolve their claims (Elizabeth McLeod, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., et al., No. 15-3540, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8341).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on May 9 determined that a disability insurer did not wrongfully deny a claim for breast augmentation surgery under a short-term disability (STD) plan because the evidence supports the insurer's conclusion that the surgery was cosmetic and not necessary to treat the illness of gender dysphoria (Charlize Marie Baker v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-3679, N.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70595).
NEW ORLEANS - The Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans on May 9 filed separate amicus curiae briefs in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business group's efforts to reverse a Texas federal judge's ruling that the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) new fiduciary duty rule does not exceed the DOL's authority, saying the new rule is deeply flawed (Chamber of Commerce of the USA, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al., No. 17-10238, 5th Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A trial court must reconsider how pension benefits during military leave are calculated, a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 10, finding that other cases outside of its circuit examining the 12-month look-back rule in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) support the appellant's argument that the prior pay rate and hours - including overtime hours - should be used to calculate the benefits owed by the employer (Kenneth E. Savage v. Federal Express Corporation, et al., No. 16-5244, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8267).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 8 remanded a disability claimant's suit after determining that the District Court erred in dismissing the claimant's breach of fiduciary claim because the breach of fiduciary duty claim is based on a different theory of liability than the claimant's denial-of-benefits claim (Lisa Jones v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-1714, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8112).
DENVER - A district court did not err in finding that a claims administrator's termination of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because substantial evidence exists to support the termination of benefits, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 9 (Tracy Blair, et al. v. Alcaltel-Lucent Long Term Disability Plan, No. 16-7062, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8198).