SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on Feb. 22 denied preliminary approval of a $2 million settlement proposed by Costco Wholesale Corp. to end truck drivers' wage claims and ordered plaintiffs' counsel to show why sanctions should not be imposed after counsel agreed to file an amended complaint that added a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq., claim that was subsequently released in the settlement agreement without any additional compensation to the class (Douglas Thompson, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., No. 14-2778, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24964).
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 22 affirmed in part a Missouri federal judge's ruling that participants in the Anheuser-Busch Cos. Pension Plan are entitled to enhanced pension benefits, saying that a plan administrator cannot contradict the plain language of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan to deny benefits, but reversed and remanded for a calculation of benefits owed to individual class members (Brian Knowlton, et al. v. Anheuser-Busch Cos. Pension Plan, et al., No. 15-3538, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3115).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 27 granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by an employee asking the high court to decide a circuit split and rule on whether Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C), Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(C), can deprive an appellate court of jurisdiction over a statutorily timely appeal or whether it is subject to equitable considerations such as forfeiture, waiver and the unique-circumstances doctrine (Charmaine Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, et al., No. 16-658, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The rights of the public, the press and the class she is seeking to represent outweigh the privacy interests of the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing NFL Enterprises LLC and individual teams of conspiring to suppress the wages of cheerleaders, a California federal judge ruled Feb. 22, denying the plaintiff's motion to proceed using a pseudonym (Jane Doe, et al. v. NFL Enterprises LLC, et al., No. 17-496, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24991).
DALLAS - A Fort Worth, Texas, cellphone repair company will pay $110,000 to settle claims that it engaged in discriminatory hiring practices when it refused to hire two hearing-impaired applicants due to their disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Feb. 23 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. S&B Industry, Inc., No. 15-641, N.D. Texas).
NEWARK, N.J. - A neurosurgical specialist's claim seeking payment for out-of-network care is based on an implied contract providing a separate and independent basis for recovery and thus is not preempted by ERISA, a federal judge in New Jersey held Feb. 17 in remanding the case (North Jersey Brain & Spine Center v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-1544, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22710).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Feb. 16 upheld a circuit court's certification of a class of city workers suing for breach of contract after mandated raises ended (City of Conway, an Arkansas Municipality v. Richard Shumate, Jr., et al., No. CV-16-284, Ark. Sup., 2017 Ark. LEXIS 41).
CINCINNATI - After finding that a former marketing director's claims for coverage against a medical review company were completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 affirmed dismissal of the claims and found that a previous lawsuit filed against a plan administrator was the proper recourse (James Hackney v. Allmed Healthcare Management Inc., No. 16-5651, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2877).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a union representing newspaper deliverers that asked the high court to reverse a ruling that it committed unfair labor practices by entering into collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with employers that unlawfully encouraged union membership (Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Union of New York and Vicinity v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 16-279, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. LEXIS 1241).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in a case in which an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed the dismissal of claims against a third-party administrator of an employee pension benefit plan because it was not a fiduciary of the plan and a self-dealing claim was time-barred (Carolinas Electrical Workers Retirement Plan, et al. v. Zenith American Solutions Inc., et al., No. 16-731, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in a case in which the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said a district court did not err in determining that a disability plan did not wrongfully terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits (Elizabeth Jenkins v. Grant Thornton LLP, et al., No. 16-682, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 denied a petition for writ of certiorari in a stock-drop case arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Alex E. Rinehart, et al. v. John F. Akers, et al., No. 16-562, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The church plan exemption in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act unambiguously requires that a church plan be established by a church, the appellee-respondents in three cases consolidated before the U.S. Supreme Court say in their initial brief filed Feb. 16 (Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Maria Stapleton, et al., No. 16-74, Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al. v. Laurence Kaplan, No. 16-86, Dignity Health, et al. v. Starla Rollins, No. 16-258, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 515).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A unitary abuse of discretion standard is the appropriate one to use when reviewing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's subpoena enforcement decisions, an attorney representing an employer argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 (McLane Company, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 15-1248, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - A former nurse supervisor's claims for pain and suffering and punitive damages under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) are barred by Dean v. Am. Sec. Ins. Co., a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 15 (Susan L. Vaughan v. Anderson Regional Medical Center, No. 16-60104, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2699).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Feb. 15 issued his findings of fact and conclusions of law on causes of action asserted by truck drivers in relation to wage and rest break claims, finding that judgment should be entered in favor of a transport company on all of its claims (Todd Shook, et al. v. Indian River Transport Co., No. 1:14-1415, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21522).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Although an Oregon federal judge on Feb. 9 found that some fraud and contract-based claims related to a 2014 data breach experienced by Premera Blue Cross merited dismissal, he held that the plaintiffs cured some previous deficiencies and concluded that their claims are not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) (In Re: Premera Blue Cross Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, No. 3:15-md-02633, D. Ore., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18322).
GREENSBORO, N.C. - A substance abuse provider's claims that an insurer failed to pay for medically necessary treatments are preempted by ERISA or fail to state a claim, a federal judge in North Carolina held Feb. 9 (Bobby P. Kearney, M.D., PLLC, v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, et al., No. 16-191, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18428).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 10 issued a summary order vacating a New York federal judge's ruling that a pension plan participant does not have standing to sue on behalf of himself, his pension plan and other similarly situated Employee Retirement Income Security Act plans over alleged improper fiduciary conduct (Landol Fletcher v. Convergex Group LLC, et al., No. 16-734, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2459).
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Feb. 9 granted a joint motion seeking to enjoin numerous pending wage proceedings against nightclub owners in 12 different federal and state courts based on a $6.5 million settlement that was granted preliminary approval two days earlier (Jane Doe 1, et al. v. Deja Vu Services, Inc., et al., No. 16-10877, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18369).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Feb. 8 denied motions for summary judgment in consolidated cases filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (COC) and other groups opposed to the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) new "fiduciary rule" set to take effect April 10, saying that the DOL has not exceeded its authority and that the new rule does not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Edward Hugler, Acting Secretary of Labor, et al., No. 3:16-cv-1476, consolidated with 3:16-cv-1530, 3:16-cv-1537, N.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17619).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A Riverside County, Calif., Superior Court jury on Feb. 7 issued a verdict in favor of the former University of California Riverside's chief campus counsel, who alleged that she was retaliated against after refusing to cover up the school's discriminatory culture and awarded her $2.5 million for past and future lost earnings and past noneconomic damages (Michele Coyle v. Regents of the University of California, et al., No. RIC1503362, Calif Super., Riverside Co.).
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court on Feb. 7 affirmed a district court's decision to deny a hospital's motion to compel arbitration of numerous class action claims asserted against it by a former nurse, finding that the nurse did not waive her right to assert her claims in a judicial forum under her collective bargaining agreement (CBA) (Tanya Vasserman v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, No. B267975, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4, 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 90).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on Feb. 6 found that an in camera review of an insurer's documents requested through discovery by a disability claimant is necessary to determine if the documents are protected under the work product doctrine or if the fiduciary exception to the attorney-client privilege applies (Cherylle McFarlane v. First Unum Life Insurance Co., No. 16-7806, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16433).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Feb. 6 signed a final order canceling a trial scheduled for March following an $81,308.71 settlement between a group of Mexican migrant workers who claimed that the owners of farms they worked at underpaid them and violated federal labor laws (Cecillo Gutierrez-Morales, et al. v. Earl Lee Planck Jr., et al., No. 5:15-cv-158, E.D. Ky.).