BISMARK, N.D. - An employer is not liable for failing to warn household members of the dangers of asbestos, the North Dakota Supreme Court held Jan. 14 after finding that a widow lacks sufficient evidence of a special relationship between the employer and its employee's son or that the employer knew the risks (Deborah J. Palmer, surviving spouse of Gary J. Palmer, deceased v. 999 Quebec Inc. [f/k/a International Boiler Works Co.], et al., No. 2016 ND 17, N.D. Sup.; 2016 N.D. LEXIS 17).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In light of the "entirely unsettled" question of whether a jury trial is warranted in cases that question the validity of a plan document governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a North Carolina federal judge on Jan. 14 treated a jury verdict as advisory, deeming a widow entitled to $140,905 in benefits under her husband's group life insurance policy plan (American United Life Insurance Company v. Joanna Arthur and Steven Bruce Sumpter, No. 14-586, W.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4810).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 denied rehearing of its divided ruling rejecting claims that State Street Bank and Trust Co. breached its statutory duty of prudence as fiduciary of the General Motors (GM) Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) (Raymond M. Pfeil and Michael Kammer v. State Street Bank and Trust Company, No. 14-1491, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19536).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 15 agreed to decide whether car dealership service advisers are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) overtime pay requirements (Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Hector Navarro, et al., No. 15-415, U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 635).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Jan. 11 granted a motion to amend filed by employees of a care business for mentally challenged adults as plaintiffs to a class action lawsuit that asserts violations of the California Labor Code and unfair competition law (UCL) but found that the employers in the case would be prejudiced by the addition of new defendants (Horacio Veyra Palana, et al. v. Mission Bay Inc., et al., No. 13-cv-05235, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3740).
PHILADELPHIA - A female truck driver who was laid off following her filing of numerous complaints about her co-workers and was never recalled, even after all her male co-workers were, may proceed with her disparate treatment and retaliation claims, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 11, vacating a trial court's dismissal of the claims with prejudice (Sandra Connelly v. Lane Construction Corporation, No. 14-3792, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 366).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Jan. 8 partially dismissed wage-related claims asserted by a former employee of a food company, finding that his claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and California Labor Code were unsupported (Jerrod Finder v. Leprino Foods Company, et al., No. 1:13-CV-2059, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2584).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court denied review Jan. 11 of a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a federal judge properly dismissed without prejudice a pension plan participant's claim that the plan improperly reduced his benefits, where the suit was not brought in the federal court specified in the plan's forum-selection clause (Roger L. Smith v. AEGON Companies Pension Plan, No. 14-1168, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 11 upheld a trial court's rejection of taxi cab drivers' state wage and unjust enrichment claims, finding that both were barred by the drivers' employment agreements (Peter Enger, et al. v. Chicago Carriage Cab Corp., et al., No. 15-1057, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 388).
RICHMOND, Va. - A trial court erred when it found that gender-specific physical fitness requirements for FBI trainees violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the case of a male trainee who failed to graduate from the FBI Academy due to missing the physical test cut-off by one push-up, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 11 (Jay J. Bauer v. Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General, Department of Justice, No. 14-2323, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 379).
ST. LOUIS - Compounding pharmacies are not entitled to injunctive relief against a pharmacy benefits manager for denial of claims in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's claims regulation, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 11 (Grasso Enterprises, LLC, et al. v. Express Scripts, Inc., No. 15-1578, 8th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An attorney representing California teachers who opt out of union membership but are still required to pay certain fees asked the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 11 to overturn its decision in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed. (431 U.S. 209 ) concerning agency-fee requirements for non-union workers working for public entities (Rebecca Friedrichs, et al. v. California Teachers Association, et al., No. 14-915, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 7 upheld a trial court's decision dismissing a former Lockheed Martin Corp. employee's disability bias claims with prejudice after the plaintiff failed repeatedly to obey a court order requiring him to properly file an amended complaint (Deon D. Jones v. Lockheed Martin Corporation, et al., No. 14-15010, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 98).
PORTLAND, Ore - A federal judge in Oregon on Jan. 7 denied a health insurers' motion to dismiss claims alleging that it breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying coverage for applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy for the treatment of autism-related spectrum disorder to children who have been diagnosed as autistic (A.F., by and through his parents and guardians, Brenna Legaard and Scott Fournier, et al. v. Providence Health Plan, No. 13-776, D. Ore.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1503).
ST. LOUIS - A retirement plan sponsor's allegations that a service provider breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act failed because the provider did not owe any duty to the participants at the time the fees were negotiated and because the sponsor failed to establish a connection between its excessive fee allegations and the alleged post-contract basis for fiduciary duty, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 8, rejecting the position of the U.S. Department of Labor (McCaffree Financial Corp. v. Principal Life Insurance Company, No. 15-1007, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 214).
NEW ORLEANS - A divided Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 5 vacated a trial court's rejection of a detention center officer's claim of retaliatory firing, finding that there was evidence that the center was inconsistent when it came to firing workers who mistreated inmates, but the majority affirmed the rejection of the officer's remaining claims (Lillie D. Wheat v. Florida Parish Juvenile Justice Commission, No. 14-30788, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 45).
ST. LOUIS - A class of workers who provide companionship services to disabled individuals in the individuals' place of residence fall under a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption and are not owed overtime, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 5, upholding a trial court's ruling (Frederic Fezard, et al. v. United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arkansas, No. 14-3601, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 27).
PHILADELPHIA - A decision by a management committee of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. that three former employees are not entitled to severance pay under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan because they were never terminated but rather were transferred to a successor company was reasonable and was not arbitrary or capricious, despite a conflict of interest for several committee members, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Jan. 6 in a divided ruling (Robin Feeko, et al. v. Pfizer Inc., et al., No. 14-4752, 3rd Cir.).
CHICAGO - The statute of repose protects a company from liability for a boiler installed 30 years before a man's asbestos exposure, but his widow's claims against a company making repairs may go forward, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Jan. 6 (Beverly Ahnert, et al. v. Brand Insulation Inc., et al., No. 13-1456, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 427).
OAKLAND, Calif. - The widow of a woman who died of cancer after a 26-year career with FedEx Corp. can pursue a claim alleging that FedEx violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying the widow benefits under her partner's pension plan based on the plan's definition of spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife," a California federal judge held Jan. 4 (Stacey Schuett v. FedEx Corporation, et al., No. 15-cv-0189, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 244).
MADISON, Wis. - An employer may require employees who wish to participate in its health insurance plan to submit to "health risk assessment" and "biometric screening test," a Wisconsin federal judge ruled Dec. 31 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Flambeau, Inc., No. 14-638, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173482).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 18 upheld the rejection of a case manager's class complaint alleging that she and other similarly situated workers were misclassified as exempt from receiving overtime pay (Nancy A. Williams, et al. v. Genex Services, LLC, f/k/a Genex Services, Inc., No. 14-1966, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22072).
PHILADELPHIA - In a Dec. 17 protective order motion filed in Pennsylvania federal court, The Coca-Cola Co. seeks to have discovery materials pertaining to its trade secrets and employees' personally identifying information (PII) designated confidential in a breach of contract lawsuit over stolen company laptops that contained PII (Shane K. Enslin v. The Coca-Cola Co., et al., No. 2:14-cv-06476, E.D. Pa.).
CHICAGO - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is incorrect in claiming that Section 707(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act allows it to sue an employer without engaging in conciliation or alleging that the employer engaged in discrimination, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 17, holding that the agency must comply with all presuit procedures contained in Title VII Section 706 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., No. 14-3653, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21963).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal magistrate judge on Dec. 11 excluded an expert's report and testimony as to dollar figures of his aggregate damages analysis for rest break premiums, meal period premiums and underpaid meal premium classes for damages pursuant to California Labor Code Section 226.7 (Sandrika Medlock, et al. v. Taco Bell Corp., et al., No. 07-01314, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167128).