SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on April 7 denied United Behavioral Health's (UBH) motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging that the insurer denied claims for mental illness and substance abuse-related outpatient treatment in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Gary Alexander, et al. v. United Behavioral Health, No. 14-cv-05337, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46046).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - An insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating long-term disability (LTD) benefits after determining that the claimant exceeded the total monthly earnings limits when a company bonus was calculated into his earnings for the year; however, the insurer failed to meet its burden that it is entitled to recoup all of the overpayments, a Virginia federal judge said April 6 (Jeffrey P. Fine v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 14-551, E.D. Va.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44729).
SAN FRANCISCO - Specific terminology need not be used to meet the requirement of Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 403(a) that "all assets of an employee benefits plan shall be held in trust by one or more trustees," the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 7 (David Barboza v. California Association of Professional Firefighters, et al., Nos. 11-15472, 11-16024, 11-16081, 16082, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5583).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 6 reinstated a lawsuit filed by a lieutenant alleging that she was denied a promotion due to her race (Gayle Miller McMullin v. Mississippi Department of Public Safety, et al., No. 14-60366, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5523).
BOSTON - An insurance agent whose contract was terminated following repeated violations of company policies failed to prove both that he was an employee rather an independent contractor and that he was actually targeted due to his age, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 6, upholding a trial court's decision (Peter Santangelo v. New York Life Insurance Company, No. 14-1912, 1st Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5509).
CINCINNATI - A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) unambiguously required employer signatories to make fringe benefit contributions for all hours worked by their employees, regardless of whether those hours were for covered employment, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed April 1 in an unpublished opinion (Bunn Enterprises, Inc., et al. v. Ohio Operating Engineers Fringe Benefit Programs, et al., No. 14-3255, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5425).
PITTSBURGH - No link exists between a couple's 2014 asbestos action alleging exposure between 1964 and 2000 and defendant US Airways Inc.'s 2002 bankruptcy, a federal judge held March 31 in granting remand (Ronald P. Abbott, Mary L. Abbott v. The Boeing Co., et al., No. 15-331, W.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42347).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal court properly found that a former child welfare services caseworker did not adequately plead a discrimination claim against his employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and that his due process rights were not violated, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 1 in a nonprecedential opinion (Stefano Kiniropoulos v. Northampton County Child Welfare Service, No. 14-2857, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5217).
BOSTON - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability (LTD) benefits based on the policy's 24-month limitation provision was not an abuse of discretion because there is substantial evidence supporting the insurer's decision, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said March 30 (Mark Dutkewych v. Standard Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-1450, 1st Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5108).
OXFORD, Miss. - A Mississippi county and sheriff's department on March 31 were ordered to comply with a dismissed deputy's discovery requests and interrogatories in his Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit, with a Mississippi federal magistrate judge finding the submitted responses to be "virtually worthless" (Earl Burdette v. Panola County, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00286, N.D. Miss.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41705).
ATLANTA - On remand for the second time from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Dun & Bradstreet Inc. (D&B) was awarded summary judgment on March 30 for the third time by a Georgia federal court on a former employee's retaliatory hostile work environment claims. In a judgment entered the same day, the court awarded D&B its costs of the action (Richard V. Kelly v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., No. 09-1498, N.D. Ga.).
CONCORD, N.H. - Medical records, employment search records and email communications are relevant to a plaintiff's claims against her former employer, a New Hampshire federal judge ruled March 27, mostly granting the defendant's motion to compel production of such materials (Christyna Faulkner v. Mary Hitchcock Medical Center, et al., No. 1:12-cv-00482, D. N.H.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39371).
ATLANTA - An expert's testimony regarding causation from "any exposure" to asbestos is "not controversial" in a case alleging more than de minimis exposure, a divided Georgia appeals court held March 30 (Scapa Dryer Fabrics Inc. v. Knight, et al., No. A14A1587, Ga. App.; 2015 Ga. App. LEXIS 237).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on March 30 granted a cruise line's motion to compel arbitration of a system manager's personal injury claims, finding that the claims must be arbitrated pursuant to Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Francis D'Cruz v. NCL [Bahamas] Ltd., et al., No. 1:15-cv-20240, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40326).
NEW YORK - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the National Labor Relations Act do not preempt a New York wage parity law governing the total compensation for home care aides, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 27 (Concerned Home Care Providers, Inc., et al. v. Andrew M. Cuomo, et al., No. 13-3790-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4973).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Lack of an asbestosis diagnosis dooms a widow's workers' compensation lung cancer claim, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held March 27 (Stella Watkins, widow of Clay Watkins Jr. v. Century Aluminum of West Virginia Inc., No. 14-0390, W.Va. App.; 2015 W.Va. LEXIS 225).
LOS ANGELES - Even a railway's admittedly continuous and substantial contacts with the state fall short of the standard for forum, a California appeals court held in granting a petition to vacate a forum ruling in a Kansas woman's asbestos action (BNSF Railway Co. v. Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, Vicki L. Kralovetz, et al., No. B260798, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 265).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A judge properly admitted evidence of asbestos contamination and testimony regarding exposure in a talc case resulting in a $1.6 million award, a New Jersey appeals court held March 27 (Steven Kaenzig v. Charles B. Chrystal Inc., et al., No. A-2512-13T3, N.J. Super., App. Div.).
CINCINNATI - A satellite dish installer who claims that he was improperly classified as an independent contractor may proceed with his wage claims, a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 26 (Michael Keller v. Miri Microsystems LLC, No. 14-1430, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4887).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 27 upheld a trial court's ruling finding that marine superintendents suing for overtime did not fall within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) administrative exemption but that the highly compensated employee exemption applied to one of the superintendents and that all the plaintiffs' claims were subject to the FLSA's two-year statute of limitations (Vasilios Zannikos, et al. v. Oil Inspections [U.S.A.], Incorporated, et al., No. 14-20253, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4986).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on March 25 granted an employer's motion for partial summary judgment in an employee's wage-and-hour class complaint, finding that the employee failed to show that there was an employment agreement entitling him to overtime pay (Steven Schneider, et al. v. Ecolab, Inc., No. 14-1044, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37440).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court on March 30 declined a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) alleging that the individual mandate impermissibly required disclosure of confidential personal information (Nick Coons, et al. v. Jacob L. Lew, et al., No. 14-525, U.S. Sup.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 25 upheld overtime wages awards for two Costco Wholesale Corp. managers but reversed the continuing wages award for one, finding that there was no evidence that the employer willfully failed to pay that employee overtime when he was terminated (Virginia Velazquez, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, Nos. 13-55241 and 13-55822, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4859).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 30 granted a petition for writ of certiorari in a dispute over the meaning of "equitable relief" within Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 502(a)(3) as it relates to an attempt to recover an alleged overpayment (Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 14-723, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A Tennessee woman filed a collective action complaint on March 24, accusing her employer of violating Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum and overtime wage provisions by paying its employees who work as virtual assistants (VAs) on a per-task basis but grossly underestimating the amount of time each task takes to complete (Harriet Callier, et al. v. Fancy Hands, Inc., No. 15-2232, S.D. N.Y.).