TRENTON, N.J. - A medical provider has a valid assignment of Employee Retirement Income Security Act benefits, and it is too early in its litigation against an insurer to determine if its claims seek duplicative recovery, a federal judge in New Jersey held Feb. 2 (University Spine Center v. Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Ins. Co., No. 17-8711, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17537).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board on Feb. 5 declined to resolve the one remaining legal question in an unfair labor practices dispute brought against a Las Vegas casino stemming for an occurrence more than 18 years ago, finding that there has been no showing that the casino has repeated its unlawful conduct in the years that followed (Venetian Casino Resort, LLC and Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas, Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, et al., No. 28-CA-016000, NLRB).
PASADENA, Calif. - State compensation laws of the adjacent state are adopted as surrogate federal law on the Outer Continental Shelf and devices attached to it as long as those state law are "applicable and not inconsistent" with federal law, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 5, quoting in part from the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C. 1331-1356b (Brian Newton v. Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd., et al., No. 15-56352, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2844).
INDIANAPOLIS - A former radio station employee failed to show that she suffered severe sexual harassment or retaliation on the job leading up to her resignation, an Indiana federal judge ruled Feb. 5 (Kristine Esser Slentz v. Emmis Operating Company, No. 16-2568, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18300).
MINNEAPOLIS - Claims by three university coaches who allege that they lost their jobs and suffered a hostile work environment due to their sexual orientation fail based on the merits and lack of jurisdiction, but one coach may proceed with her gender bias and retaliation claims, a Minnesota federal judge ruled Feb. 1 (Shannon Miller, et al. v. The Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, No. 15-3740, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17531).
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma federal judge on Feb. 2 denied a surviving spouse's motion for summary adjudication on the issue of whether a life insurance policy's "Incontestability Clause" applied to permit him to receive an additional life insurance benefit under his deceased wife's employee-sponsored policy (Greg Smith v. Standard Insurance Company, et al., No. 15-1126, W.D. Okla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17426).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Former employees of a bankrupt insurance and reinsurance services company filed a putative class action complaint on Feb. 1 in the Delaware bankruptcy court, alleging that they were laid off without proper notice under the Workers' Adjustment and Retraining Notice Act (WARN Act) (In re: Patriot National Inc., et al., Chapter 11, No. 18-10189, Michelle L. Cole, et al. v. Patriot National Inc., et al., Adv. Pro. No. 18-5, D. Del. Bkcy.).
CINCINNATI - A police lieutenant failed to show that his age caused his work restrictions and disproportionate suspension following a finding that he and several other police department officials had been deficient in performing their duties when they determined that an officer appropriately used force during an arrest, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 1 (Melvin Brown, Jr. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, No. 17-5603, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2454).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 30 refused to dismiss two counts in a claimant's class action lawsuit seeking benefits under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act health plan for her stay at an out-of-network residential psychiatric treatment facility, rejecting the defendants' argument that the two counts are "merely improper attempts to repackage her claim for benefits" (E.S., by and through her parents and guardians, To.S. and Ti.S., individually, on behalf of similarly situated individuals v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. Benefits Administration Committee, et al., No. 17-03351, D. N.J.).
MINNEAPOLIS - Honeywell filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the same day a district court judge issued an amended opinion granting a motion for preliminary injunction filed by a class of retirees seeking to stop the termination of their health care benefits (Augustine Pacheco, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 17-5048, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15699).
ATLANTA - A hospital's general references to Employee Retirement Income Security Act plans is not sufficiently specific to put a health care insurer on notice of the claims against it, and requiring at least a summary of the number of plans in question would not hamper judicial efficiency, a federal judge in Georgia held Jan. 30 in dismissing the case (Polk Medical Center Inc. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Inc., et al., No. 17-3692, N.D. Ga., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14461).
DENVER - A Colorado federal judge on Jan. 30 denied certification of the plaintiffs' proposed class in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit accusing Oracle Corp. of making imprudent investments and allowing the collection of excessive fees related to its 401(k) plan but granted certification of more narrow subclasses related to the imprudent investment claims (Deborah Troudt, et al. v. Oracle Corporation, et al., No. 16-175, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15151).
DUBLIN, Ga. - A Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisor, Hester Foods Inc., agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Feb. 1 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Hester Foods, Inc., No. 17-34, S.D. Ga.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 30 affirmed a district court's finding that class counsel are not entitled to additional fees for locating pension beneficiaries in conjunction with a class action settlement because the terms of the settlement agreement are not ambiguous and clearly provided a 10-year payment period for class counsel (Mary E. Collins, et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., et al., Nos. 16-5310, 16-5318, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2282).
RICHMOND, Va. - A female firefighter may proceed with her harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 30, vacating a trial court's summary judgment ruling for the employing Virginia county, finding that the plaintiff established a causal connection between her protected activities and adverse employment action (Magaly Hernandez v. Fairfax County, No. 17-1152, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2274).
MISSOULA, Mont. - A Montana federal judge on Jan. 30 reinstated a disability claimant's long-term disability benefits and ordered the disability insurer to reimburse the claimant for the amount offset by the insurer after determining that a settlement received by the claimant was not subject to offset because the settlement was not for the same disability for which the claimant was receiving disability benefits (Dawn Rustad-Link v. Providence Health and Services, et al., No. 16-136, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14928).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Jan. 29 trimmed retaliation claims asserted under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a consolidated lawsuit over Allstate Insurance Co.'s reorganization that switched employee agents to independent contractors, finding that the retaliation claims that were based on Allstate's counterclaims cannot proceed because the counterclaims were not objectively baseless (Gene R. Romero, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al., Nos. 01-3894, 01-6764, 03-6872, 15-1049 and 15-3047, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14160).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - FCA US LLC and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) colluded when FCA offered bribes and UAW accepted the bribes in exchange for company-friendly positions at the bargaining table and elsewhere, workers allege in a class complaint filed Jan. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Beverly L. Swanigan, et al. v. FCA US, LLC, No. 18-10319, E.D. Mich.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana federal judge on Jan. 29 allowed nearly all testimony from vision and rehabilitation experts for a woman alleging that her employer constructively discharged her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after she lost part of her eyesight due to a stroke, barring only one statement by each expert (Catherine Jones v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, No. 16-cv-340, M.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13545).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 29 affirmed a lower federal court's finding that the Illinois slayer statute bars a claimant who was found not guilty of murdering her husband by reason of insanity from recovering from her husband's pension benefits (Laborers' Pension Fund, et al. v. Anka V. Miscevic, No. 17-2022, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2178).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Jan. 26 dismissed the remaining discrimination claim in a disability claimant's suit seeking benefits under a short-term disability (STD) plan for breast augmentation surgery to treat the illness of gender dysphoria after determining that the claimant failed to prove that the employer discriminated against her under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Charlize Marie Baker v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-3679, N.D. Texas; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12854).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Employee nonsolicitation and no-hire agreements between Jimmy John's restaurant franchisees have caused employees to suffer from reduced wages and benefits and diminished employment opportunities, a former employee alleges in his class complaint filed Jan. 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Sylas Butler, et al. v. Jimmy John's Franchise, LLC, et al., No. 18-1333, S.D. Ill.).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Jan. 25 rejected objections by an individual who was not a member of the class and granted final approval of a $1.6 million settlement to be paid by Vita-Mix Corp. and a staffing company to end a class complaint by workers alleging that they were misclassified and denied overtime wages and benefits (Rainoldo Gooding, et al. v. Vita-Mix Corporation, et al., No. 16-3898, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13252).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Jan. 24 dismissed a 401(k) plan participant's amended complaint, agreeing with the plan defendants' argument that the amended complaint fails to show that alleged excessive fees charged by the plan defendants were unjustified (D'Ann M. Patterson, et al. v. The Capital Group Companies Inc., et al., No. 17-4399, C.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a Jan. 24 one-page order, denied a petition for permission to appeal a grant of class certification in a lawsuit for a former employee accusing his employer and its retirement plan investment committee of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging 401(k) plan participants excessive fees, rejecting the employer's claim that the employee signed away the right to sue in a severance agreement (Marlon H. Cryer, et al. v. Franklin Resources, Inc., et al., No. 17-80213, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1842).