SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on June 9 granted in part and denied in part a retired bus driver's motion to conditionally certify a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Robert Estorga v. Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, No. 16-02668, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89200).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on June 9 granted final approval of a proposed settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate for class members and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective members, further approving $450,000 in class counsel fees and costs and a $10,000 service award to the named plaintiff (Juan Luna Dominguez, et al. v. Galaxy Recycling Inc., et al., No. 12-7521, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88855).
MIAMI - Plaintiffs in a class action against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. on June 8 filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a $25 million settlement of a 401(k) lawsuit alleging that Merrill Lynch breached its fiduciary duties by failing to ensure that small retirement plan clients received mutual fund sales discounts (Benjamin Fernandez, et al. v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., No. 1:15-cv-22782, S.D. Fla.).
MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota federal judge on June 8 denied Wells Fargo Bank's motion to reconsider his March order that a 2013 verdict did not have a preclusive effect on nonjury claims brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because its counsel failed to timely raise the issue (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 11-2529, D. Minn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89240).
PHILADELPHIA - A disability insurer was entitled to offset a disability claimant's long-term disability benefits against income the claimant earned by working part time for her medical practice because the claimant still received the benefit of her earnings even though the earnings were applied against debt she owed her medical practice, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 7 (Amy Patrick, M.D. v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 16-3980, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10105).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The International Franchise Association (IFA) on June 7 applauded the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta that day that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would withdraw the Obama administration's interpretation of joint employer that it called "one of the most costly and burdensome regulations impacting the franchise business model."
CINCINNATI - A district court erred in determining that a disability plan administrator's denial of disability benefits was not arbitrary and capricious, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 8 after determining that the disability claimant provided the administrator with objective findings that support a disability (Bruce Corey v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., et al., No. 16-3817, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10179).
PITTSBURGH - An employee of a Pennsylvania oil field who alleges that he was paid miscalculated overtime wages or none at all was granted conditional class certification June 6 in his wage-and-hour lawsuit by a Pennsylvania federal judge (Christopher Meals, et al. v. Keane Frac GP LLC, et al., No. 16-1674, W.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86149).
SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 6 certified two questions to the Oregon Supreme Court regarding the appropriate limitations period in a disability policy after determining that the claimant's suit cannot be resolved until the certified questions are answered (Cynthia Raynor v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 14-36090, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10015).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on June 2 found that an employment practices liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured against a former employee's claims for unpaid commissions, denying the insured's motion for partial summary judgment (American Chemicals & Equipment, Inc. d/b/a American Osment v. Continental Casualty Co., et al., No. 15-00299, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84769).
SEATTLE - In a June 5 order, a Washington federal judge granted in part a fired employee's motion for production of certain emails from her former supervisor, with the judge taking the opportunity to admonish both sides for the necessity of the motion, which he attributed to the parties' unwillingness to cooperate on discovery (Theresa Ortloff v. Dave Trimmer, et al., No. 2:16-cv-01257, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85963).
MINNEAPOLIS - A putative class action brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act alleging that pharmacy benefits managers' violation of their fiduciary duty caused the price of a drug used to treat severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to skyrocket was filed June 2 in Minnesota federal court (Elan and Adam Klein, et al. v. Prime Therapeutics LLC, et al., No. 0:17-cv-01884, D. Minn.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An employer ordered to comply with certain witness-statement disclosure requirements, as established in Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 237 N.L.R.B. 982, 984-85 (1978), has no standing to challenge a new prospective rule established by the National Labor Relations Board in the same ruling because the NLRB may enforce a cease-and-desist order only to the extent that it requires the employer to comply with the rule applied in its case, a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 6 (American Baptist Homes of the West, doing business as Piedmont Gardens v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 15-1445, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9970).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 2 reversed a District Court's ruling that a disability insurer's denial of benefits based on the plan's intoxication exclusion was de novo wrong after determining that that the evidence clearly shows that the claimant's injury was related to intoxication (Steven D. Prelutsky v. Greater Georgia Life Insurance Co., No. 16-15900, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9759).
CARSON CITY, Nev. - A taxi driver may not proceed with his proposed class wage claims against his employer because he failed to properly oppose a motion for summary judgment and the claims he brought were previously resolved in a grievance filed by the union representing the drivers, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled June 1 (Michael Sargeant, et al. v. Henderson Taxi, No. 69773, Nev. Sup., 2017 Nev. LEXIS 42).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 1 reversed a lower federal court's ruling that ordered a claimant to take nothing from a Separation Benefits Plan, rendering a $255,000 judgment in favor of the claimant after finding that the administrator's reading of the plan was an abuse of discretion (William Langley v. Howard Hughes Management Co., No. 16-20724 c/w No 17-20217, 5th Cir, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 9724).
NEW YORK - A natural supermarket chain's rule for employees barring the recording of conversations at work is overbroad and violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 1, enforcing a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 16-2, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9638).
DENVER - A university counseling center employee's demotion and later her decision to quit were not caused by sex discrimination or retaliation, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 2, affirming a trial court's determination that the university had a legitimate reason for the demotion and that the employee was not constructively discharged (Tawny Hiatt v. Colorado Seminary, et al., No. 16-1159, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9774).
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on May 31 denied a disability insurer's motion for partial summary judgment on a claimant's state law claims after determining that the disability plan at issue is exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the hospital that administered the plan qualifies as a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana (Brenda Andrus v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 16-1112, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82833).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split National Labor Relations Board on June 1 denied a motion to stay the union election for all hourly paid student employees of the University of Chicago's libraries and denied on the merits the university's expedited request for review (University of Chicago and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 743, No. 13-RC-198365, NLRB).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 2 vacated dismissal of a human resources professional's claim of age bias brought against his former employer, finding that he brought allegations sufficient to state a claim; however, the appellate panel upheld dismissal of the appellant's gender and ethnicity bias and retaliation claims (Michael Franchino v. Terence Cardinal Cook Health Care Center, Inc., et al., No. 16-2383, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9756).
BOSTON - There was not substantial evidence in the record to support a finding by the National Labor Relations Board that the firing of a newly hired worker who engaged in a heated exchange with a union delegate during orientation training and questioned whether union membership was required was due to his protected conduct, a split First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 31 (Good Samaritan Medical Center v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 15-1347, 15-1412, National Labor Relations Board v. 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Nos. 15-1877, 15-1941, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9623).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 5 in three "church plan" class action lawsuits that pension plans for religious nonprofits, regardless of who established them, are exempt from the minimum funding and reporting and disclosure requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Maria Stapleton, et al., No. 16-74, Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al. v. Laurence Kaplan, No. 16-86, Dignity Health, et al. v. Starla Rollins, No. 16-258, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 30 affirmed that a beneficiary of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan was required to reimburse the plan for payments it made for her medical expenses in the event she received a third-party recovery, saying the summary plan description (SPD) contains a valid reimbursement provision (Donna Rhea v. Alan Ritchey Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan, et al., No. 16-41032, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9482).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Pursuant to an agreement between an educator, who is suing her former school district for employment retaliation, and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), an Ohio federal magistrate judge on May 26 entered a protective order governing how students' information may be submitted in response to the plaintiff's discovery subpoena (Jessica Irving v. Steve Carr, et al., No. 2:16-cv-00728, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81159).