PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 7 upheld the firing of a university worker after he took unapproved leave (Anthony H. Szostek v. Drexel University, No. 14-1170, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 226).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 12 denied a petition for writ of certiorari in a bias lawsuit brought by a Michigan county employee who was involuntarily transferred to a position that he had previously applied for (Kalamazoo County Road Commission, et al. v. Robert Deleon, et ux., No. 13-1516, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 5).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 8 remanded a wage-and-hour class complaint for further submission of evidence for the trial court to determine the proper jurisdiction (Jose L. Ibarra, et al. v. Manheim Investments, Inc., et al., No. 14-56779, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 334).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 7 granted a nonprofit health care corporation leave to appeal a ruling that its retirement plan does not qualify for exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act as a church plan (Laurence Kaplan v. Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al., No. 14-8125, 3rd Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A voluntary preretirement program is not a plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Jan. 7 in an unpublished opinion (Robert Buchanan, et al. v. General Motors, LLC, No. 13-1664, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 405).
ATLANTA - A district court did not err in granting a disability insurer's motion for summary judgment because the medical record supports the insurer's claim denial, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 7 (Rachael Cook v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-10473, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 187).
ROCK HILL, S.C. - A class action is not the best vehicle for litigating claims from almost 16,000 individuals allegedly shut out of the workers' compensation system after their attorneys pursued asbestos bankruptcy trust claims without first notifying employers, a federal judge in South Carolina said Jan. 8 (Odell Parker, et al. v. Asbestos Processing LLC, et al., No. 11-1800, D. S.C., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37336).
WICHITA, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on Jan. 7 dismissed with prejudice a complaint that was initially filed against The Boeing Co. and Spirit Aerosystems as a class action and later reduced to individual claims by 26 people alleging age discrimination (Perry Apsley, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 05-1368, D. Kan.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1181).
FLINT, Mich. - The sponsor of a top-hat plan violated the terms of the plan by failing to timely withhold Federal Income Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, a federal judge in Michigan ruled Jan. 6 in granting partial summary judgment to a class of retirees on their claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (John B. Davidson, et al. v. Henkel Corporation, et al., No. 12-cv-14103, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 722).
CINCINNATI - Meal periods during which casino security guards remain on site and monitor their radios in case of an emergency are not compensable, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 7 (Angelia Ruffin, et al. v. MotorCity Casino, d/b/a Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., No. 14-1444, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 236).
CHICAGO - A retirement plan sponsored by an employer associated with a church on Jan. 8 filed a motion for interlocutory appeal of a federal judge in Illinois' ruling that the plan does not qualify as a church plan exempt from the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Maria Stapleton, et al. v. Advocate Health Care Network and Subsidiaries, et al., No. 14 C 01873, N.D. Ill.)
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California man filed a class complaint on Jan. 7 in California federal court accusing Paramount Pictures Corp. of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by obtaining credit reports on job applicants (Michael Peikoff v. Paramount Pictures Corporation, et al., No. 4:15-cv-00068, N.D. Calif.).
SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Jan. 5 announced that Kaplan Higher Education will pay $1,329,753.25 to resolve claims that the company employed unqualified instructors at its campuses in Texas (United States of America, et al. v. Kaplan, Inc., et al., No. 12-459, W.D. Texas).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Participants in Boeing Co.'s 401(k) plan may continue with the majority of their claims related to excessive fees, a federal judge in Illinois ruled Dec. 30 in denying Boeing's motion for summary judgment on the merits and in denying in part Boeing's motion for summary judgment based on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's six-year statute of limitations (Gary Spano, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 06-743, S.D. Ill.).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Dec. 31 rejected a trucking company's second attempt to remove a wage-and-hour class complaint to federal court (Shawn Leon, et al. v. Gordon Trucking, Inc., No. 14-6574, C.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179055).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 29 reversed a trial court's decision to send a wage-and-hour class complaint back to state court, finding that the amount in controversy exceeds the Class Action Fairness Act's (CAFA) threshold of $5 million (Adam Jones, et al. v. Bath & Body Works, LLC, No. 14-56778, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24508).
ST. PAUL - State laws that preclude discretionary language and pre-existing condition limitations in group health and disability plans did not negate an abuse-of-discretion standard of review or application of a disability plan's pre-existing condition limitation provision, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 29 in ruling that an insurer did not abuse its discretion under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in denying buy-up benefits due to the plan's pre-existing condition provision (Karen Brake v. The Hutchinson Technology Incorporated Group Disability Income Insurance Plan, No. 13-3421, 8th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24489).
MINNEAPOLIS - An insurer was entitled to have its decision denying disability benefits reviewed under an abuse-of-discretion standard of review under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because a reasonable person would consider that the policy incorporated the grant of discretion in the summary plan description (SPD), the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 30 in upholding the insurer's denial of benefits (Vicki Johnson v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company, No. 13-2645, 8th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24557).
ATLANTA - A wage dispute against Eli Lilly & Co. belongs in state court for the time being because the employer has failed to prove that the amount in controversy meets the minimum requirements under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 29 (Leslie Pinciaro Dudley, et al. v. Eli Lilly and Company, et al., No. 14-13048, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24504).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Dec. 31 reversed a board's decision to award a maintenance worker benefits, finding insufficient evidence to show that his respiratory issues were caused by occupational exposure to mold (Edward Connolly v. Covanta Energy Corp., et al., No. 518493, N.Y. Sup.; App. Div.; 3rd Dept.; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8995).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A judge must instruct a jury on the intended-user doctrine and conduct a new trial absent "each and every" exposure to asbestos testimony, a divided en banc Pennsylvania appeals court held Dec. 23 in vacating a $14.5 million verdict and ordering a new trial (Darlene Nelson, executrix of the estate of James Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply, et al., Nos. 864 EDA 2011, 866 EDA 2011, 867 EDA 2011, Pa. Super.).
CHICAGO - In the fifth appeal to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the appeals court on Dec. 24 dismissed a class action suit that alleged that a defined-contribution pension plan was partially terminated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Robert J. Matz v. Household International Tax Reduction Investment Plan, Nos. 14-1683, 14-2507, 7th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24448).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Dec. 18 declined defendants' motion to renew, reargue or stay a ruling allowing punitive damages in New York City's asbestos litigation (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, No. 40000/88, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on Dec. 17 granted class action status to a case accusing J.C. Penney Corp. Inc. of violating state law, including the unfair competition law (UCL), by failing to pay vacation benefits as required (Raymond Tschudy v. J.C. Penney Corporation Inc., No. 11-1011, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174382).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 ordered the further reduction of a jury's punitive damages award in an employment bias and racial harassment suit that was already reduced to $5 million by the federal judge from the original $24 million (Elijah Turley v. ISG Lackawanna, Inc., No. 13-561, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 23705).