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).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge properly found that a plaintiff's claim for pension benefits accrued by his late father is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and that the plaintiff lacks standing to maintain such an action, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 11 in a not precedential decision (Thomas E. Robinson Jr. v. Laneko Engineering Co. Inc., No. 15-2837, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2359).
NEW YORK - Citing the "overly complex, overly risky" nature of four participant-directed defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plans offered by Verizon Communications Inc., a participant in one of those plans on Feb. 11 filed a purported class action complaint against myriad defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Melina N. Jacobs v. Verizon Communications Inc., et al., No. 16-1082, S.D. N.Y.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A plaintiff won summary judgment Feb. 10 that an automobile insurer must reimburse him for medical expenses incurred in a 2011 accident, but a Michigan federal judge in the same ruling found that the plaintiff must also reimburse his employer's benefits plan for any third-party recovery he receives in a related state court action that has since been stayed (Jason McClure v. United Parcel Service Flexible Benefits Plan, et al., No. 14-845, W.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15920).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Feb. 9 denied Dave & Buster's Inc.'s motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the nationwide restaurant/entertainment chain of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by reducing the hours of its work force in 2013 to avoid the costs associated with providing health insurance to its full-time employees in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Maria De Lourdes Parra Marin v. Dave & Buster's, Inc., et al., No. 15-3608, S.D. N.Y.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on Feb. 10 held that a general liability insurance policy's "separation of insureds" provision allowed an insured's claimant to pursue her claims stemming from a slip-and-fall injury against additional insureds under the policy, reversing a lower court's ruling that coverage is barred by the "absolute employer's liability" provision (Kerry Taylor v. Admiral Insurance Co., No. 3D14-720, Fla., App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 1807).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 affirmed a trial court's decision that plan administrators reasonably rejected a hospital's claim that an increase in lifetime maximum benefits for "claims incurred" since a specific date did not include claims made after that date for services rendered prior to that date (Perris Valley Community Hospital, LLC, DBA Vista Hospital of Riverside, A California Limited Liability Company v. Southern California Pipe Trades Administrative Corporation, et al., No. 14-55408, 9th Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 8, based on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett (135 S. Ct. 926 ), reversed a district court's ruling in favor of a class of retirees from Moen Inc. who argued that their collective bargaining agreements guaranteed them health care benefits for life (John L. Gallo, et al. v. Moen Incorporated, Nos. 14-3633 and 14-3918, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2118).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Feb. 5 dismissed a claim for conversion asserted by an employee of a travel company who also asserts claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and Labor Code, finding that it was not possible to make a definite calculation of the amount of hours she worked to be converted (Milagros Alvarenga v. Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Inc., No. 1:15-cv-01560, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15180).
PHILADELPHIA - Allegations that an employer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to provide, upon request by a former employee a copy of a trust agreement were rejected Feb. 5 by a Pennsylvania federal judge, who instead found that the company's provision of the operative 401(k) plan document satisfied 29 U.S. Code Sections 1024(b)(4) and 1103(a) (Derrick Askew v. R.L. Reppert Inc., et al., No. 11-4003, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14448).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 5 enforced a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board finding that a New Jersey company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it locked out its employees after failing to reach an agreement with the union on health benefits (Alden Leeds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 11-1267 and 11-1296, D.C. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1998).