NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 8 allowed class action plaintiffs to file a fourth amended complaint to add claims related to a retirement plan's alleged breach of the duty of loyalty to the plan participants after determining that the plaintiffs raise a plausible inference that the defendants did not act solely in the interests of the plan's beneficiaries during the class period (Marya J. Leber v. Citigroup, Inc., et al., No. 07-9329, S.D. N.Y; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119043).
SAN FRANCISCO - The majority of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 affirmed a district court's dismissal of breach of contract claims after determining that the claims are preempted under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (Oregon Teamster Employers Trust v. Hillsboro Garbage Disposal Inc. et al., No. 13-35555, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15925).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 reversed a district court's decision dismissing a former Johnson & Johnson's employee's claim for violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, finding that the evidence was not sufficient enough to show that he was fired for violating company policy (Dean Napoli v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 14-31000, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 4 reinstated a train operator's disability bias claim, finding that a district court erred in determining that under Collins v. New York City Transit Authority (305 F.3d 113 [2d Cir. 2002]), a state agency's dismissal of the claim was binding (Juan A. Cortes v. MTA New York City Transit, No. 14-713, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15775).
NEW YORK - 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, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 9 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sterling Jewelers Inc., No. 14-1782, 2nd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California fire protection district did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to compensate firefighters for the time they spend traveling to pick up their required gear, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 4, upholding a trial court's decision (Steve Balestrieri, et al. v. Menlo Park Fire Protection District, No. 12-15975, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15785).
CINCINNATI - An employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it terminated an employee one day after he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 3 (John Yarberry v. Gregg Appliances, Inc., No. 14-3960, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15879).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 4 enforced a National Labor Relations Board decision finding that a car dealership violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when leaders made statements threatening to punish union-supporting employees and then fired one employee linked to the union organizing efforts (AutoNation, Inc., et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 14-2991 and 14-3361, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15771).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 2 rejected a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to abandon the two-step, burden-shifting framework established in Ketterer v. Department of Agriculture (2 M.S.P.R. 294 ) and use in its place a single-step analysis of the efficiency of the service (Beth F. Cobert, Acting Director, Office of Personnel Management v. Mary A. Miller, Merit Systems Protection Board, No. 2014-3101, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15566).
ST. LOUIS - The Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) did not breach its fiduciary duty by denying life insurance benefits to the widow of a policyholder who failed to disclose a cancer diagnosis received post-application but before the policy was issued, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 3 (Yafei Huang v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 14-3401, 8th Cir. 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15677).
NEW ORLEANS - A university researcher who was rendered partially disabled following an explosion while performing an experiment failed to show that the denial of her request for reinstatement to her former position was the result of national origin discrimination, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 1 (Mozaina Kobaisy v. University of Mississippi, et al., No. 14-60651, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15749).
PHILADELPHIA - Summary judgment was properly granted to an insurer that denied accidental death benefits because the lower court judge adequately considered the insurer's dual role as claim payer and evaluator and there was sufficient evidence that the decedent was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident that resulted in his death, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 2 (John Guthrie v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No 14-3282, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15599).
CINCINNATI - Claims by an Employee Retirement Security Income Act plan fiduciary that two corporate defendants are actually the same company, thereby requiring both defendants to adhere to the terms of a union contract, were properly rejected by an Ohio federal judge, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 2 (Board of Trustees of the Local 17 Iron Workers Pension Fund v. Harris Davis Rebar LLC, et al., No. 14-3997, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15571).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority on Sept. 3 reinstated a service technician's class claim seeking compensation for time spent commuting in a company vehicle, finding that questions remain regarding whether that mode of transportation was required (Joseluis Alcantar, et al. v. Hobart Service, et al., No. 13-55400, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15687).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal judge on Aug. 31 denied a worker's motion for class certification in a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and wage-and-hour violations due to the plaintiff's failure to demonstrate commonality, typicality and adequacy (Michael Troche, et al. v. Bimbo Foods Bakeries Distribution, Inc., f/k/a George Weston Bakeries Distribution, Inc., No. 11-234, W.D. N.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115482).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Sept. 1 partially certified a class of drivers who have driven in California for Uber Technologies Inc. and allege that they were improperly classified as independent contractors and denied reimbursement for all necessary expenditures, as well the full amount of gratuity left by customers (Douglas O'Connor, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., No. 13-3826, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116482).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Sept. 2 issued two orders: The first granted a motion for final approval of a $415 million settlement with Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Intel Corp. on employees' claims that the high-tech companies conspired to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility by entering into agreements not to compete for one another's employees in violation of federal antitrust law, and the second partially granted motions for attorney fees, reimbursement of expenses and service awards (In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-2509, N.D. Calif.).
CHICAGO - A district court correctly certified a class of bankers employed by PNC Bank who allege that time they spent working outside of their normal business hours went uncompensated, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 31 (Mariseli Gomez Bell v. PNC Bank, National Association, No. 14-3018, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15403).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Aug. 28 denied a motion for class certification in a suit alleging that administrative and management fees charged by a retirement plan provider are excessive because the requirement of predominance is not satisfied as there are numerous individual questions that would have to be answered based on a plan-by-plan analysis (Jaclyn Santomenno et al. V. Transamerica Life Insurance Co. et al., No. 12-02782, C.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114829).
CLEVELAND - An Ohio federal judge on Aug. 28 denied a motion to dismiss after determining that a retirement plan participant sufficiently alleged claims for breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Nancy Murray v. Invacare Corp. et al., No. 13-1882, N.D. Ohio; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114657).
CINCINNATI - A plan beneficiary seeking coverage under an accidental death or dismemberment plan suffered a "permanent" loss because pursuant to the plan's language, a foot injury that lasted more than 12 consecutive months was permanent, the majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Aug. 28 (Steve Stockman v. GE Life Disability and Medical Plan et al., No. 13-4450, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15305).
MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota federal judge on Aug. 26 dismissed a third-party claim filed against an employer for breach of the doctrine of promissory estoppel for failing to pay a health benefits claim because the employee's claim is one for wrongful denial of health benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which cannot be supported because the employee breached his obligations under the plan (Olmstead Medical Center v. Ronald L. Carter et al., No. 14-2916, D. Minn.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112758).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Boeing Co. and participants in its 401(k) plan reached a provisional settlement on claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act related to excessive fees, ending nine years of litigation and canceling the bench trial that was set to begin Aug. 26 (Gary Spano, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 06-743, S.D. Ill.).
NEW YORK - A suit filed by a former employee of Xerox Corp. was properly dismissed because the employee signed an agreement relinquishing all claims, including any related to his distribution or calculation of pension benefits, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Aug. 26 (Herbert E. Anderson v. Xerox Corp. et al., No. 14-2849, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15048).
PHILADELPHIA - A plan administrator's failure to notify a claimant in its denial letter of the health plan's one-year limitations period for filing suit is a violation of the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and as a result, New Jersey's six-year limitations period must be applied to the claimant's suit, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Aug. 26 in vacating a District Court's finding that the claimant's suit was time-barred (Dr. Neville M. Mirza M.D. et al. v. Insurance Administrator of America Inc. et al., No. 13-3535, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15068).