CHICAGO - Pension funds' claims that Bank of New York Mellon breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by investing in notes issued by Lehman Brothers Holding Co. through its securities lending program are not precluded by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer (134 S.Ct. 2459 ), a federal judge in Illinois ruled March 16 (The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local No. 710 Pension Fund, et al. v. The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, et al., No. 13 C 1844, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31682).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 17 determined that a claimant's suit alleging breach of fiduciary duty and willful miscalculation of long-term benefits is time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations (William Goodes, et al. v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., No. 13-16027, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4248).
CHICAGO - In granting a disability claimant's motion for entry of judgment, an Illinois federal magistrate judge on March 13 determined that the claimant's predisability earnings should be based on the claimant's regular earnings and not based on a tax year in which the claimant's salary was vastly different from other years (Carole Cheney v. Standard Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-4269, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30918).
MILWAUKEE - A judge properly excluded layperson co-worker testimony regarding asbestos content, evidence of a defendant's duty and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation into a workplace, a Wisconsin court held March 17 while reversing some aspects of the order (June Calewarts, et al. v. CR Meyer and Sons Co., et al., No. 2014AP531, Wis. App.; Dist. 3; 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 208).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on March 13 certified a class of door-to-door salespersons who allege that they were improperly classified as independent contractors (Levonna Wilkins, et al. v. Just Energy Group, Inc., et al., No. 13-5806, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31902).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An Illinois appeals court on March 17 affirmed a $1.4 million asbestos verdict against a railroad for exposure arising from a property it leased, rejecting challenges to the verdict form, jury instructions and admission of evidence regarding the lease (In re: Estate of Lilienthal, No. 4-14-0280, Ill. App., 4th Dist.; 2015 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 514).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A judge improperly denied class certification to a group of plaintiffs seeking medical monitoring after allegedly suffering asbestos exposure during employment in a Missouri courthouse, a state appeals court panel held March 17 (David M. Elsea and Jeanne Morgan, et al. v. U.S. Engineering Co., and Jackson Co., Mo., No. WD77687, Mo. App.).
LOS ANGELES - A school bus driver bringing various wage claims against her former employer failed to establish that questions of law common to her proposed class predominate over individualized matters, a California federal judge ruled March 12, denying the plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Imelda Vasquez, et al. v. First Student, Inc., et al., No. 14-6760, C.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30631).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A participant in a nongovernmental health need not exhaust tribal remedies prior to bringing a claim for recovery of health benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal judge in Kansas ruled March 13 (Amy Coppe v. The Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan, et al., No. 14-2598, D. Kan.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30992).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on March 12 declined to certify a class of workers under the New York Labor Law (NYLL) suing their former employer for various wage violations, finding that the plaintiffs failed to prove predominance and commonality (Christopher D. Griffith, et al. v. Fordham Financial Management, Inc., et al., No. 12-1117, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30869).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A majority of the Ohio Supreme Court on March 12 found that a commercial general liability insurance policy exclusion bars coverage for a carpenter's employer intentional torts claims against his employers arising from his 14-foot fall from a ladder-jack scaffold (Hoyle; The Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. DTJ Enterprises Inc., et al., No. 2013-1405, Ohio Sup.; 2015 Ohio LEXIS 595).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 11 granted certification to a class of cleaning company franchisees who claim that they were misclassified and are actually employees (Pamela Myers, et al. v. Jani-King of Philadelphia, Inc., et al., No. 09-1738, E.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29566).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on March 12 dismissed a class complaint accusing an employer of various violations of California wage laws and gave the lead plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint; however, he noted that if an amended complaint is successfully filed, the employer may want to seek an interlocutory appeal because the law addressing whether meal premiums are subject to wage statement and waiting time regulations is not clear (Jerrod Finder, et al. v. Leprino Foods Company, et al., No. 13-2059, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30652).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Judicial economy is not served by considering a class certification motion in a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) challenge while appeals are pending, a federal judge held March 13 (The Catholic Benefits Association LCA; The Catholic Insurance Co. v. Sylvia M. Burwell, et al., No. 14-240, W.D. Okla.).
BOSTON - Fidelity did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by retaining float income earned from plan disbursements because redemption float income was not a plan asset and because Fidelity was not a fiduciary with respect to float, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled March 11 (In re Fidelity ERISA Float Litigation, No. 13-10222, D. Mass.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29825).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on March 10 followed an approach adopted by the Second, Third and Ninth circuits and ruled "that a class may be certified as to particular issues concerning liability even if the claim as a whole does not meet the predominance requirement of [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 23(b)(3)" (Lashon Jacks, et al. v. DirectSat USA, LLC, et al., No. 10-1707, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28881).
SAN FRANCISCO - A district court properly evaluated a disability claimant's denial of benefits under an abuse-of-discretion standard because the beneficiary was not substantially harmed and the denial was not the result of a violation of the plan's terms, the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals said March 11 (Isela Dimery v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 12-17550, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3794).
NEW ORLEANS - An out-of-network medical provider that implemented a discount program has standing as an assignee to sue the administrator of plans regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for underpayment of benefits, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 10 (North Cypress Medical Center Operating Company, et al. v. Cigna Healthcare, et al., No. 12-20695, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3711).
PHILADELPHIA - An armored truck driver and the class she represents are owed overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week because they fall within an exception to a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 11 (Ashley McMaster v. Eastern Armored Services, Inc., No. 14-1010, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3826).
WARREN, Ohio - A trial court's order compelling certain financial information from a law firm that is the target of an ex-employee's sexual harassment lawsuit does not constitute a final, appealable order, an Ohio appeals panel ruled March 9, dismissing the appeal for lack of jurisdiction (Celina Colombo v. The Mismas Law Firm LLC, et al., No. 2014-L-069, Ohio App. 11th Dist.; 2015 Ohio App. LEXIS 772).
OMAHA, Neb. - An employee who was required to drive to perform multiple tasks of his job and was unable to drive after having multiple seizures failed to prove that his firing, following multiple attempts to move him to a job that didn't require driving, was discriminatory, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 9 (Mark Minnihan v. Mediacom Communications Corporation, No. 14-1109, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3625).
DENVER - An employer's one-time, improper pay deduction does not supersede the employee's classification as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 9 (Sandra Ellis, et al. v. J.R.'s Country Stores, Inc., No. 13-1346, 10th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3667).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - An employee with an alleged disability has no grounds to sue her former employer for disability bias when the employee never revealed she had a disability or requested accommodation, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 9 (Marissa Walz v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc., No. 14-2495, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3629).
ST. LOUIS - Former servers at a pizzeria who are bringing wage claims against their former employer on behalf of former and current servers have no standing to challenge an arbitration agreement that applies only to current servers, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 9 (Jacqueline L. Conners, et al. v. Gusano's Chicago Style Pizzeria, et al., No. 14-1829, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3632).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 9 invited the solicitor general to file a brief regarding whether the court should review the proper causation standard in a 401(k) breach of fiduciary case under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (RJR Pension Investment Committee, et al. v. Richard G. Tatum, No. 14-656, U.S. Sup.).