DETROIT - Michigan's Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Blue Cross Blue Shield have settled the tribe's claims that Blue Cross breached its fiduciary duty and violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in administering the tribe's health care plan for employees, according to a dismissal order filed Jan. 11 in federal court (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 2:15-cv-13708, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - A power company's specification that contractors use asbestos and its ability to prevent the related injuries allow it to be held liable under New York Labor Law Section 200, a divided New York appellate court held Jan. 10 (Phyllis Brown, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190415/12, 206, 205, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 98).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 asked the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the government's views in a case that asks whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits a cause of action for indemnity or contribution by a person found liable for breach of fiduciary duty (David B. Fenkell v. Alliance Holdings Inc., et al., No. 16-473, U.S. Sup.).
MIAMI - A former law enforcement officer's privacy claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and related civil rights claims were properly dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that the claims accrued on the date that the purported violations occurred (Shaun Foudy, et al. v. Indian River County Sheriff's Office, et al., No. 15-14646, 15-14659 and 15-15015, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 369)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 declined to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that affirmed the dismissal of claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (BAH) based on its conclusion that BAH's Stock Rights Plan did not qualify as an ERISA plan because its primary purpose was not to provide deferred compensation or other retirement benefits (Foster Rich v. Ralph W. Shrader, et al., No. 16-415, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 let stand a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that affirmed the dismissal of claims that the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Self-Insurance Institute of America Inc. v. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 16-593, U.S. Sup.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 9, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court's dismissal of an action bought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) against an automobile dealership, holding that Congress never intended for the service advisers to be exempted from receiving overtime pay (Hector Navarro, et al. v. Encino Motorcars, LLC, No. 13-55323, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 344).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a Florida corporation asking it to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that reversed a trial court's partial summary judgment ruling for the corporation on claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Division on behalf of a class of female prison workers who allege gender discrimination and harassment, finding that the two agencies sufficiently conciliated their claims (The Geo Group, Inc. v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., No. 16-302, U.S. Sup.; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 294).
PHILADELPHIA - A trial court erred when it ruled that a disparate-impact claim is not cognizable where a subgroup comprises workers 50 years old and older, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 10 in an opinion in which it also vacated the exclusion of testimony by the plaintiffs' statistics expert and remanded for further Daubert proceedings (Rudolph A. Karlo, et al. v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, No. 15-3435, 3rd Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 406).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Not allowing non-Indians who were injured as a result of a tribal employee's negligence miles away from a reservation a remedy except what the tribe chooses to provide in tribal court "represents an extraordinary and unwarranted expansion of tribal immunity," an attorney for a couple injured by a limousine driver for a Native American casino told the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 9 (Brian Lewis and Michelle Lewis v. William Clarke, No. 15-1500, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - A disability insurer's termination of benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the evidence supported the termination and the insurer minimized any conflict of interest by employing a number of safeguards, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 6 (Donna Geiger v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-2790, 7th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 245).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Jan. 6 granted a request by several companies to transfer an employee's class claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and other causes of action related to alleged employment violations, finding that transfer to another federal court was appropriate because various factors, including the convenience of witnesses, weighed in favor of the transfer (Jorge Perez v. Performance Food Group Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-02390, N.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2319).
DENVER - All of the claims brought by a surgeon who was disciplined for alleged misconduct against the hospital where he was an independent contractor must be submitted to an arbitrator to determine the arbitrability of them in the first instance based on the management services agreement signed by both parties, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 5, reversing in part a trial court's decision that the arbitrability of only one claim should be decided by the arbitrator (LeGrand P. Belnap, M.D. v. Iasis Healthcare, et al., No. 15-4010, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 180).
PORTLAND, Ore. - The widow and children of a late Sikh Dharma spiritual leader may proceed with their conspiracy and fraud claims alleging that they were wrongfully excluded from certain management positions and denied assets, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 6 after determining that, based only on the pleadings, the plaintiffs' claims are not barred by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's ministerial exception (Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Puri, et al. v. Sopurkh Kaur Khalsa, et al., No. 13-36024, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 266).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A former border patrol agent (BPA) failed to show that an arbitrator erred in determining that the agent was properly removed from his position after he exhibited psychotic symptoms, a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 4 (Brendan Corkery v. Department of Homeland Security, No. 2015-3216, Fed. Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 237).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Baltimore employee failed to show that the city's requirement that employees submit proof of marriage for their spouses to be eligible for health insurance coverage violates state or federal law, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 4, upholding a trial court's dismissal of an employee's complaint (Adris Abdus-Shahid, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 15-2181, 4th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 118).
ATLANTA - A 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 30 affirmed an Alabama federal judge's ruling that a staffing business employer failed to notify a plaintiff of his rights under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), saying that the evidence was sufficient that the former employee's health insurance was retroactively canceled in retaliation for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint and that the employer was not exempt from the COBRA requirement to provide notice to the employee of the right to continuation of health insurance coverage (Sam A. Virciglio v. Work Train Staffing LLC, et al., No. 15-10421, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23422).
AKRON, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Dec. 29 granted approval of a $1.15 million settlement to be paid by U.S. Bancorp and U.S. Bank National Association (collectively, U.S. Bank) to end a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action brought by co-managers (CMs) who alleged that they were improperly denied overtime wages (Kelly Waggoner, et al. v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 14-1626, N.D. Ohio; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179843).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Dec. 30 certified an excessive deduction class but not an overtime class in a lawsuit brought by a tile store sales associate against his employer (Adriel Osorio, et al. v. The Tile Shop, LLC, No. 15-15, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180077).
HOUSTON - The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo (136 S. Ct. 1036 ) - a Fair Labor Standards Act case in which the high court, in its decision approving of the plaintiffs' reliance on representative evidence to satisfy the procedural requirements for class certification, expressly stated that it was not establishing any broad or categorical rules concerning the use of "representative evidence" in class cases - has no effect on a racial discrimination suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC, a Texas federal judge ruled Dec. 28 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, et al., No. 11-3425, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179403).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 30 affirmed a District of Columbia federal judge's ruling rejecting allegations that the fiduciary of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) breached its duty by failing to prevent participants from purchasing or holding "doomed" stock, finding that the claims fall far short under the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer (Donna Marie Coburn, et al. v. Evercore Trust Company N.A., No. 16-7029, D.C. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23396).
DETROIT - An arbitration provision agreed to by Uber Technologies Inc. drivers "clearly and unmistakably" provides that an arbitrator must decide the issue of arbitrability, a Michigan federal judge ruled Dec. 27, granting a motion to compel arbitration of a wage class complaint filed by two drivers (Arthur Zawada, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 16-11334, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178582).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Dec. 20 ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to produce more than 100 documents it has withheld in a civil action against the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), saying that Treasury has "miserably failed" to explain its deliberative process privilege claims (U.S. Department of the Treasury v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., v. Dennis Black, et al., No. 12-mc-100, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175656).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 21 affirmed an Illinois federal judge's ruling that three Teamster pension and welfare funds are entitled to collect shortfalls in contributions due from an employer under collective bargaining agreements, finding the employer's audit report to be unreliable (Teamsters Local Union No. 727 Health and Welfare Fund, et al. v. L&R Group of Companies, No. 16-2037, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22870).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 21 made a small amendment to its Sept. 7 opinion in which it held that a California federal judge erred when he assumed the authority to decide in two class complaints whether arbitration agreements between Uber Technologies Inc. and its drivers were enforceable and denied a petition for rehearing en banc (Abdul Kadir Mohamed, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-16178, Ronald Gillette v. Uber Technologies, Inc., No. 15-16181, Abdul Kadir Mohamed, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-16250, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22898).