PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on Jan. 22 partially granted a motion for class certification in a lawsuit accusing two pension plans and the administrators and trustees of improperly withholding and miscalculating benefits (Wayne Bryant v. Arizona Pipe Trades Pension Trust Fund, et al., No. 13-1563, D. Ariz.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7291).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 26 denied a petition from the State of Oklahoma seeking a writ of certiorari before judgment in its challenge to the availability of subsidies in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchanges (State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Scott Pruitt v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, et al., No. 14-586, U.S. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES - In reversing a lower court's decision, a California appeals court on Jan. 21 held that a technician was not a hotel worker who traditionally would have been paid a gratuity for providing services and, therefore, was not among the class of hotel workers entitled to be paid service charges collected by the employer; therefore, the defendant did not violate the state's unfair competition law (UCL) by not paying the service charges to the employee (Audio Visual Services Group Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, et al., No. B256266, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 50).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred when it applied the reasoning of its earlier decision in International Union, United Auto, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of Am. v. Yard-Man, Inc. (716 F.2d 1476) to a dispute over the life of retiree health benefits, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled Jan. 26, siding with the employer, which argued in favor of applying the ordinary principles of contract law (M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et al. v. Hobert Freel Tackett, et al., No. 13-1010, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 759).
NEW YORK - A federal judge erred by finding that a health care provider settled its claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for services rendered with a self-funded employee benefit plan based on the plan's "one-sided representation," the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 21 in an unpublished order (Montefiore Medical Center v. Teamsters Local 272, et al., No. 13-4221-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 844).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Because a disability insurer cannot prove than a disability plan was part of an employee welfare benefit package, the insurer's argument that the state law claims are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act fails, an Alabama federal judge said Jan. 21 in denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Lawrence Rosen M.D. v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 14-0922, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6586).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a workers' compensation exclusion bars coverage for a $9.5 million wrongful death judgment against an insured after the Florida Supreme Court answered three certified questions in the affirmative (Leticia Morales, et al. v. Zenith Insurance Co., No. 12-11755, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 930).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on Jan. 20 granted a disability claimant's motion to compel discovery on the limited issue of determining whether procedural irregularities or conflicts affected the insurer's denial of a long term disability claim (Liyan He v. Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 14-2180, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6652).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Evidence that a man suffered occupational asbestos exposure and a workers' compensation court's ruling that it led to his lung cancer are sufficient grounds on which to award benefits to his widow, West Virginia's top court held Jan. 20 (Sadie Page, widow of John W. Page Jr. v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-0108, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W. Va. LEXIS 42).
PHILADELPHIA - A police detective who was demoted after actions that were perceived as involvement in a political campaign cannot prove First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution retaliation without evidence to show that he actually exercised those rights, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 22, citing Fogarty v. Boles (121 F.3d 886, 888 [3d Cir. 1997]) (Jeffrey J. Heffernan v. City of Paterson, et al., No. 14-1610, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 967).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A disability insurer's denial of a claim for long-term benefits based on the policy's pre-existing exclusion was reasonable, an Alabama federal judge said Jan. 21, noting that the evidence clearly supports the insurer's denial (Sidney Law v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 13-2267, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6404).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. - An Arizona federal judge on Jan. 16 dismissed a self-funded employee welfare benefit plan's subrogation lawsuit against the estate of a plan participant regarding settlement proceeds in an underlying wrongful death action because the participant's children did not incur health care expenses for which another party is responsible (MedCath Incorporated Employee Health Care Plan v. Dustin Stratton, et al., No. 14-08099, D. Ariz.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5514).
NEW YORK - While a contractor retained the power to enlarge the work done at a worksite, it never exercised general control over the site or specified the manner of work, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 16 (Margaret Donovan, et al. v. ACF Industries LLC, et al., No. 190110/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Jan. 16 agreed to transfer an individual wage suit to the federal court where a similar class complaint was filed based on the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' "first-to-file" rule (Jack Hagans v. Integrated Production Services, Inc., et al., No. 14-2965, S.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5584).
TAMPA, Fla. - A class of restaurant servers alleging that they were denied minimum and overtime wages was granted conditional class certification in a Florida federal judge's Jan. 16 order that limited the scope of the class to just one restaurant location (John Ciani, et al. v. Talk of the Town Restaurants, Inc., D/B/A Charley's Steakhouse, No. 14-2197, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5580).
MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin federal judge on Jan. 15 conditionally certified an Equal Pay Act (EPA) collective claim filed by a former lab specialist who accuses her former employers of gender discrimination; however, the judge dismissed the plaintiff's Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 claim with prejudice (Danielle Ailts Campeau, et al. v. NeuroScience Labs Inc., et al., No. 14-324, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4813).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 21 ruled that a former federal air marshal's disclosure of information about canceled missions to the media was not "prohibited by law" (Department of Homeland Security v. Robert J. MacLean, No. 13-894, U.S. Sup.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A Connecticut woman filed a class complaint on Jan. 14 against the State of Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) and the State Department of Administrative Services (DAS), alleging that the physical fitness test for female correctional officer (CO) applicants is unlawfully discriminatory (Denisha Davis, et al. v. State of Connecticut Department of Correction, et al., No. 15-57, D. Conn.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on Jan. 14 granted a petition seeking review of an appeals court decision finding that a district attorney's unfair competition law (UCL) claims seeking civil penalties for violations of state workplace safety regulations are preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (federal/OSHA) (Solus Industrial Innovations v. The Superior Court of Orange Co., The People, real party in interest, No. S222314, Calif. Sup.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal magistrate judge on Jan. 14 recommended the approval of a settlement in a class action case to end a wage claims dispute that includes an allegation of a violation of the state's unfair competition law (UCL) filed by distribution center works against CVS Pharmacy Inc. (Leticia Ceja-Corona, et al. v. CVS Pharmacy Inc., No. 12-1868, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5118).
SAN FRANCISCO - A district court did not err in ordering a disability insurer to pay attorney fees incurred by a company plan on behalf of a claimant because the company supported the claimant and assumed the same position as a plaintiff in the claimant's lawsuit, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Jan. 15 in an unpublished opinion (John Paul Micha M.D., et al. v. Group Disability Benefits Plan for Gynecologic Oncology Associates Partners LLC, No. 12-55816, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 646).
NEW ORLEANS - A disability insurer abused its discretion in determining that a claimant's entitlement to benefits was limited because a mental disorder contributed to the claimed disability, the majority of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said Jan. 15 (Robert George v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 14-50368, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 658).
PHILADELPHIA - A former chief public defender who was fired following his filing of a lawsuit over the funding of the office and reporting other failures may proceed with his retaliation lawsuit because he pleaded facts sufficient to allege that his speech was as a citizen, not a public official, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 15, vacating the trial court's decision (Albert Flora, Jr. v. County of Luzerne, et al., No. 14-1854, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 671).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured against underlying claims, including tortious interference with contractual relations and business advantages, civil conspiracy, conversion, aiding and abetting a fiduciary breach and misappropriation of trade secrets (Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Gum Tree Property Management, LLC, et al., No. 14- 60302, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 595).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 reinstated a complaint filed by a former Suffolk County, N.Y., police lieutenant who alleges that he was retaliated against for speaking to members of the press, speech that he claims was protected (Raymond Smith v. County of Suffolk, et al., No. 13-1230, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 600).