NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 2 reversed the dismissal of a worker's bias claims and remanded, finding that the arbitration agreement cited by the employer in its defense was illusory (Michael Nelson v. Watch House International, L.L.C., No. 15-10531, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3959).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Feb. 29 denied a motion filed by a woman objecting to a class settlement reached with her former employer seeking to certify a judgment settling the class claims in the case prior to the resolution of the individual claims so that she can file an immediate appeal (Danette M. Moore, et al. v. Petsmart, Inc., No. 12-3577, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24836).
CINCINNATI - A Tennessee federal judge properly granted an insurance fund summary judgment on allegations that its denial of benefits was arbitrary or capricious, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in a Feb. 29 unpublished decision (Scott Foltz v. Barnhart Crane and Rigging Inc., et al., No. 15-5907, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3822).
CAMDEN, N.J. - Allegations that Aetna Inc. violated New Jersey's anti-subrogation laws were rejected, in part, on March 1 by a New Jersey federal judge on grounds of preemption by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Michelle Roche, et al. v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 13-1377, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25208).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A New York federal magistrate judge on Feb. 26 granted a motion for conditional certification of a collective action brought by a dishwasher who alleges that his former employer skirted overtime wages by using two time cards per worker (Orbin Zaldivar, et al. v. JMJ Caterers, Inc. d/b/a The Metropolitan, et al., No. 14-924, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23969).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on Feb. 25 granted a motion to transfer a class complaint filed by former National Football League players against several dozen clubs over the use of prescription medications to a California federal court where the same counsel previously filed a related case against the NFL (Etopia Evans, et al. v. Arizona Cardinals Football Club, LLC, et al., No. 15-1457, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23525).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 26 denied reconsideration of his earlier finding that an employer satisfied 29 U.S. Code Sections 1024(b)(4) and 1103(a) when it provided a former employee with a copy of the company's operative 401(k) plan document (Derrick Askew v. R.L. Reppert Inc., et al., No. 11-4003, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23894).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A decision to deny a lump-sum benefits payment pursuant to 29 U.S Code Section 1341(c) was set aside by a District of Columbia federal judge Feb. 25 in light of a failure by plan administrators to "explain adequately" their rejection of a plaintiff's statutory and regulatory challenges to the denial (Joseph V. Fisher v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, No. 14-1275, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22966).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 29 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. seeking reversal of a July 7 decision by a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel finding that a follow-on gender bias class action filed against Wal-Mart after the high court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (131 S. Ct. 2541 ) was timely as it was filed under American Pipe & Constr. Co. (414 U.S. 538 ) (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Cheryl Phipps, et al., No. 15-597, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 1 ruled 6-2 that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), preempts Vermont's health care data collection law, which requires health care payers to report claims and health care services data to a state agency, as applied to ERISA benefit plans (Alfred Gobeille, in his official capacity as chair of the Vermont Green Mountain Care Board v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-181, U.S. Sup.).
FRESNO, Calif. - After finding that agricultural workers who assert claims for violation of California's unfair completion law (UCL) and other causes of action lacked standing, a California federal judge on Feb. 23 granted their employer's motion to dismiss a claim related to allegedly unpaid wages (Marcelina Peralta and Rigoberto Monjaraz v. Wonderful Citrus Packing LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-00263, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22695).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 24 affirmed dismissal of a fired security guard's gender discrimination and retaliation claims against the Seminole Tribe of Florida's casino, holding that the tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe entitled to sovereign immunity (Stanley Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee, No. 15-12460, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3160).
BALTIMORE - In light of evidence that the plaintiff in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) against her former employer knowingly destroyed relevant computer files, a Maryland federal judge on Feb. 22 adopted a magistrate's recommendation that the plaintiff receive sanctions in the form of not being permitted to present the disputed evidence at trial (Karen Ericksen v. Kaplan Higher Education LLC, et al., No. 1:14-cv-03106, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20819).
SHERMAN, Texas - A plaintiff in a wrongful termination case against his former employers complied with Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when submitting an expert report on loss of income and benefits, as well as past and future damages, a Texas federal judge ruled Feb. 23, denying a motion to bar the report (Scott Butler v. American Heritage Life Insurance Co. and Allstate Insurance Co., No. 13-199, E.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21571).
NEW ORLEANS - The Louisiana Supreme Court denied insureds' writ application challenging an appeals court's ruling that there is no primary or excess fiduciary liability or directors and officers liability insurance coverage for an underlying lawsuit spawned by a federal investigation of insureds' employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), according to a Feb. 19 news release (Woody D. Bilyeu, et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa, et al., No. 2015-C -2277, La. Sup.).
MADISON, Wis. - Employees living within 1.25 miles of a door-manufacturing facility utilizing asbestos introduced sufficient evidence that home-based exposures contributed to their mesothelioma, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Feb. 19 in allowing the claims while also ruling on the admissibility of deposition testimony and alleged "every exposure" testimony (Milton Boyer and Kathy Boyer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-286, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-186, Janet Pecher, et al. v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-147, Virginia Prust, et al. v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-143, Roger Seehafer and Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-161, Wesley Sydow and Theresa Sydow v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-219, Brian Heckel, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 13-459, Dianne Jacobs v. Rapid American Corp., et al., No. 12-899, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20207).
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A North Carolina federal judge on Feb. 18 found, for a second time, that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) was not imprudent under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it eliminated Nabisco as an investment option for employees, only to later sell the stock at a loss (Richard G. Tatum v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 02-373, M.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19536).
DENVER - A Kansas federal judge did not err in denying a negligent misrepresentation plaintiff his requested relief because the underlying motion - seeking reconsideration of a finding of Employee Retirement Income Security Act preemption - was untimely, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 19 (Trent Lebahn v. Eloise Owens, No. 14-3244, 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2876).
BOSTON - Although rejecting a plaintiff's claim that an insurer committed procedural violations during an internal review of a partial denial of benefits, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 nonetheless reversed and remanded the dispute after finding that a Massachusetts federal judge applied the wrong standard of review (Stephanie C. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue Inc., No. 15-1531, 1st Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2693).
INDIANAPOLIS - Three student athletes failed to show that their participation on university sports teams renders them employees of the university for which they play, an Indiana federal judge ruled Feb. 16 in dismissing the students' claims that they are owed wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Gillian Berger, et al. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al., No. 14-1710, S.D. Ind.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18194).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Feb. 16 remanded an hourly worker's claims for violation of the California Labor Code and California's unfair competition law (UCL) to a state court, finding that his claims against his employer were not completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (Ruben Mendoza, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. Aramark Services Inc., et al., No. 150-cv-05142, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18648).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Allegations that the fiduciary of an employee stock ownership plan breached its duty by failing to prevent participants from purchasing or holding "doomed" stock were rejected by a District of Columbia federal judge Feb. 17 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Donna Marie Coburn v. Evercore Trust Company N.A., No. 15-49, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18712).
NEW ORLEANS - Two claims for recovery under Louisiana state law for alleged bad faith by a stop-loss insurer were dismissed with prejudice Feb. 16, but a third claim survived when a Louisiana federal magistrate judge found no preemption by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Candies Shipbuilders LLC v. Westport Insurance Corporation, No. 15-1798, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18263).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Feb. 12 held that although an insurer's failure to provide independent counsel in an underlying wrongful termination dispute does not constitute vexatious or unreasonable conduct, the insured's remaining allegations of misconduct by the insurer are sufficiently supported by the facts (DHR International, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, No. 15 C 4880, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17719).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A majority of the Pennsylvania Superior Court on Feb. 12 rejected an insured's argument that a commercial general liability insurance policy's employer's liability exclusion as it relates to a "leased worker" is unconscionable and against public policy, affirming a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a coverage dispute arising from a workplace injury (Westfield Insurance Company v. Astra Foods Inc., et al., No. 1392 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.; 2016 Pa. Super. LEXIS 84).