NEWARK, N.J. - Horizon Healthcare Service Inc. and related companies (collectively, Horizon) has already transferred $33 million to an interest-bearing, federally insured escrow account that will be used to pay class members, settlement administration costs above the $160,000 that Horizon is obligated to pay and any attorney fees and costs under a settlement granted final approval by a New Jersey federal judge on Oct. 18, ending a class complaint filed by chiropractors alleging that Horizon systematically denied payment for certain services rendered (Alphonse A. DeMaria, et al. v. Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. d/b/a Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, et al., No. 11-7298, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143941).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 14 declined to reconsider its earlier ruling in which a split panel dismissed for want of jurisdiction an appeal by unidentified opt-in plaintiffs in a wage-and-hour dispute who were seeking an extension of equitable tolling (Joanna Marie Wilson, et al. v. Navika Capital Group, L.L.C., et al., No. 15-20204, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18552).
NEW ORLEANS - A California state court approved opt-out class settlement that released Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims precludes FLSA claims brought in a federal court on behalf of California plaintiffs, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 14 (Raymond Richardson, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al., No. 15-20711, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18528).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge in an order filed Oct. 17 directed insurer defendants in a class action challenging the lump-sum payment method used to calculate interest earned by pension plan members' accounts to produce several dozen allegedly privileged documents based on the fiduciary exception to the attorney-client and work product privileges (Jennifer Durand, et al. v. The Hanover Insurance Group Inc., et al., No. 3:07-cv-00130, W.D. Ky.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143064).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Oct. 13 allowed three counts in a putative class action complaint alleging that Deutsche Bank entities mismanaged their 401(k) plan in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to proceed, saying that the plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary duty claim plausibly alleges that the plan fiduciaries breached their duties to act in the best interest of the plan and with due care by failing to remove excessively costly proprietary mutual funds (Ramon Moreno, et al. v. Deutsche Bank Americas Holding Corp., et al., No. 1:15cv9936, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142601).
MINNEAPOLIS - A former Wells Fargo & Co. employee and participant in its 401(k) plan on Oct. 14 filed a class action complaint under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against the company, former and current executives and investment committee members, alleging that they breached their fiduciary duty by, among other things, retaining common stock of Wells Fargo as an investment option in the plan when a reasonable fiduciary using the "care, skill prudence, and diligence . . . that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters" would have done otherwise (Lynette Fletcher, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 0:16-cv-03495, D. Minn.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal magistrate judge on Oct. 12 denied a motion filed by United Behavioral Health (UBH) to either reconsider his Sept. 19 certification of a class of insureds accusing UBH of wrongly denying coverage of mental health and substance abuse treatment to thousands or certify the order for interlocutory appeal (David Wit, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-2346, Gary Alexander, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-5337, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141441).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Oct. 11 granted preliminary approval of a $6 million settlement to be paid by a company that provides asset protection solutions to hourly technicians who are members of a putative class and collective action in which they alleged that they were denied compensation for work-related activities, including mandatory trainings and traveling to and from customer worksites (Edgar Viceral, et al. v. Mistras Group, Inc., No. 15-2198, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140759).
LOS ANGLES - A California federal judge on Oct. 13 granted a motion to remand a case filed by an employee who alleged wage-related and other claims against his former employer, finding that the amount in controversy did not meet the requirements for removal of a class action to a federal court (Gustavo Segura Santoya v. Consolidated Foundries Inc., et al., No. 16-02232, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142112).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge, in a decision filed Oct. 11, certified a class of participants who filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against a mutual insurance company for allegedly using premiums it obtained through payments made by them for health care coverage to enrich itself, saying that the plaintiffs satisfied all of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 requirements for certification and that a class action is superior to all other methods of adjudicating the action (Susan Priddy, et al. v. Health Care Services Corp., No. 14-3360, C.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140414).
ST. LOUIS - A motor carrier that requires its truck drivers with body mass indexes (BMIs) of 35 or greater to undergo tests to determine whether they had obstructive sleep apnea is not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 12 (Robert J. Parker v. Crete Carrier Corporation, No. 16-1371, 8th Cir. 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18374).
MINNEAPOLIS - A participant in and beneficiary of the Wells Fargo & Co.'s 401(k) Plan filed a putative class action lawsuit in Minnesota federal court Oct. 7, alleging violations of Sections 409 and 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for allegedly encouraging and causing employees to sign up customers for unauthorized and unwanted accounts and other banking products to generate inflated share price growth (Francesca Allen, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 16-3405, D. Minn.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Oct. 6 denied most parts of a motion to dismiss a class action complaint accusing a man's former employer, Wawa Inc., of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it forced him and other terminated employees to sell their stock in the company because Wawa's reservation of a right to amend the plan "at any time" did not necessarily give it the authority to reduce the plaintiffs' benefits (Greg Pfeifer v. Wawa, Inc., et al., No. 16-497, E.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 denied a petition for writ of certiorari asking it to consider whether a party that is not an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participant, an ERISA beneficiary or a health care provider has standing to sue an insurer under ERISA for benefits (Gables Insurance Recovery Inc., as assignee of South Miami Chiropractic LLC, v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., No. 16-64, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 denied a request by flight attendants to rule on employee seniority disputes following the merger of two airlines, leaving in place a decision by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that upheld dismissal of a complaint filed by former Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight attendants who claimed that they were improperly bumped to the bottom of the seniority list for the second time after American Airlines and U.S. Airways merged (Flight Attendants in Reunion, et al. v. American Airlines, Inc., et al., No. 16-256, U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 6209).
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 7 affirmed a trial court's summary judgment ruling in favor of an Oklahoma county Board of Commissioners and one of the commissioners in his individual capacity, finding that a former secretary who alleged that she was subjected to harassment and retaliation failed to show that she took the required steps to report alleged harassment by her supervisor (Misty Tilghman v. Rob Kirby, et al., No. 16-6010, 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18239).
ATLANTA - A job applicant who claims that he was unsuccessful in attaining employment due to the employer's refusal to hire individuals based on age may sue for disparate treatment but not disparate impact, a split en banc 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 5 (Richard M. Villarreal, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 15-10602, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18074).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Oct. 4 awarded more than $2.5 million in attorney fees, costs and class representative awards in a case alleging that various fiduciaries violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by permitting the Eastman Kodak Employees' Savings and Investment (SIP) and Kodak Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) to offer Kodak stock as an investment option even after an objective investigation would have revealed that the stock represented an "extremely risky investment" (In re: Eastman Kodak ERISA Litigation, No. 6:12cv6051, W.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137744).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 3 enforced in part and denied enforcement in part of an order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding mixed-use areas in a Mercedes-Benz plant and the distribution of union literature and ordered the NLRB to narrow the scope of its order or conduct additional fact finding regarding the other areas it addressed in its remedy but were not thoroughly considered (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 15-10291, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17775).
CINCINNATI - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 30 ruled that the City of Cincinnati's requirements for the award of construction contracts for water works jobs are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because they impact the uniformity of the structure and administrative practice for ERISA plans and create "an impediment to uniform benefit administration" (Allied Construction Industries v. City of Cincinnati, No. 1:14cv450, S.D. Ohio; 2016 U.S Dis. LEXIS 135758).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Sept. 30 denied a motion to certify a class of beneficiaries of employer-sponsored Prudential Insurance Company of America life insurance policies, saying that the plaintiffs have failed to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)'s predominance requirement (Clark R. Huffman, et al. v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 2:10-cv-05135, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135349).
NEW ORLEANS - A sharply divided en banc Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 30 affirmed certification of a class of individuals who signed up to sell utility contracts to others but now seek to recover the money they lost, alleging that they were part of a fraudulent pyramid scheme (Juan Ramon Torres, et al. v. S.G.E. Management, L.L.C., et al., No. 14-20128, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17746).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 declined to review a woman's case involving, among other issues, the proper way to handle external benefit denial appeal after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (S.M. v. Oxford Health Plans [NY] Inc., et al., No. 15-1540, U.S. Sup.).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal magistrate judge on Sept. 30 denied the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance's motion to quash a subpoena related to the denial of a woman's mental health treatments, saying a confidentiality provision in the state Health Care Quality Act is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Rachel B. v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, No. 14-cv-01153, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135547).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a jewelry company seeking review of a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel's ruling that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, courts may review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted an investigation, not whether the investigation was sufficient (Sterling Jewelers, Inc. v. EEOC, No. 15-1329, U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 4580).