LOS ANGELES - The state's workers' compensation exclusivity provision bars a tort action alleging exposures to asbestos from pipes a man brought home from work because it involves the same mesothelioma his occupational exposure triggered, a California appeals panel held Sept. 17 (Mary Melendrez, et al. v. Ameron International Corp., Nos. B256928, B259423, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 820).
PHILADELPHIA - An agreement settling hearing-loss claims that purportedly released a railroad from liability from any and all conditions is too broad to free them from asbestos-related lung cancer claims, a federal judge held Sept. 17 (Roger Lee Hindle and Mary Lou Hindle v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 13-6297, E.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124100).
MINNEAPOLIS - A general liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured in an underlying suit arising out of the funding of an employee pension benefits plan because the policy at issue clearly excludes coverage for the failure of any investment program to perform as represented by an insured, a Minnesota federal judge said Sept. 16 (Publishing House of the Evangelical Church in America d/b/a Augsburg Fortress Publishers v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co. et al., No. 14-550, D. Minn.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123473).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 16 dismissed a pension fund's complaint against its investment advisers because the trustees of the pension fund failed to allege a legally cognizable loss sustained as a result of the placement of assets in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme (Trustees of the Upstate New York Engineers Pension Fund v. Ivy Asset Management et al., No. 13-3180, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123590).
SALT LAKE CITY - The right to self-defense is a limited exception to the at-will employment doctrine, a divided Utah Supreme Court ruled Sept. 17 in a case involving whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. erred when it fired several employees after they were involved in physical confrontations with shoplifting customers (Shawn H. Ray, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 2015 UT 83, Utah Sup.; 2015 Utah LEXIS 241).
PHILADELPHIA - In choosing to repay a withdrawal from a pension fund through annual payments, the contributor must pay the single highest contribution rate listed in the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), rather than averaging the rates in the applicable CBAs, but is not required to pay a surcharge as part of its repayment, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Sept. 16 (Board of Trustees of the IBT Local 863 Pension Fund v. C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., et al., Nos. 14-1956 and 14-1957, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16449).
PHILADELPHIA - Apple Inc. on Sept. 14 removed a class complaint accusing the company of failing to pay workers in its stores in Pennsylvania for the time they spend waiting for and undergoing security checks to a Pennsylvania federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) (Natasha Franklin, et al. v. Apple, Inc., No. 15-5119, E.D. Pa.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals court should reinstate a $10.3 million asbestos verdict because evidence of significant quantities of asbestos installed on cruise ships a man spent years living aboard meets the "featherweight burden" in Jones Act cases, a widow argues in a Sept. 14 opening brief (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).
PHILADELPHIA - An assignment of the right to payment is sufficient to confer standing to a medical provider to sue a health insurer for payment under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Sept. 11 in reversing a district court's ruling (North Jersey Brain & Spine Center v. Aetna Inc., No. 14-2101, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16158).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 14 said a disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in denying a disability claim and affirmed a district court's ruling on the basis that the ruling is "imminently correct" (Ronald T. Alsup, M.D. v. Unum Provident Corp., et al., No. 15-30346, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A former intern for "The Wendy Williams Show" on Sept. 11 moved in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to settle his class complaint with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. after the company agreed to pay $1,341,752 to end claims that it, Lions Gate Films Inc. and Debmar-Mercury LLC violated federal and state wage-and-hour statutes by failing to pay their interns (Anthony Tart, et al. v. Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation, et al., No. 14-8004, S.D. N.Y.).
MINNEAPOLIS - A so-called timing provision in the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Law that requires a supplemental unemployment benefit (SUB) plan to provide supplemental payments only for those weeks an applicant was paid regular, extended or additional unemployment benefits in order for the supplemental payments to be excluded as "wages" is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a divided Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Sept. 9 (Thomas V. Engfer v. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems Inc., No. A-13-0872, Minn. Sup.; 2015 Minn. LEXIS 503).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee federal judge on Sept. 9 determined that a retirement plan participant can allege a claim for equitable estoppel, in addition to other claims, against the plan because the plan's applicable terms are ambiguous regarding covered employees and the beginning date of participation in the plan (Andre Deschamps v. Bridgestone Americas Inc. Salaried Employees Retirement Plan et al., No. 12-86, M.D. Tenn.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119869).
SAN FRANCISCO - A health care provider did not abuse its discretion in denying coverage for treatment that was part of a clinical trial because the health plan clearly excludes coverage for experimental treatments, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Sept. 9 (Lana V. Robertson v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Inc., et al., No. 15-35304, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16028).
An insurance company is violating ERISA by refusing to cover therapeutic repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a California woman alleges in her class complaint filed Sept. 8 in a California federal court; she brings claims that are similar those in a class suit filed Sept. 3 in Connecticut federal court by a Tennessee man (Annette Weil, et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, et al. , No. 15-7074, C.D. Calif.; Christopher Meidl, et al. v. Aetna, Inc., et al., No. 15-1319, D. Conn.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 8 allowed class action plaintiffs to file a fourth amended complaint to add claims related to a retirement plan's alleged breach of the duty of loyalty to the plan participants after determining that the plaintiffs raise a plausible inference that the defendants did not act solely in the interests of the plan's beneficiaries during the class period (Marya J. Leber v. Citigroup, Inc., et al., No. 07-9329, S.D. N.Y; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119043).
SAN FRANCISCO - The majority of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 affirmed a district court's dismissal of breach of contract claims after determining that the claims are preempted under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (Oregon Teamster Employers Trust v. Hillsboro Garbage Disposal Inc. et al., No. 13-35555, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15925).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 reversed a district court's decision dismissing a former Johnson & Johnson's employee's claim for violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, finding that the evidence was not sufficient enough to show that he was fired for violating company policy (Dean Napoli v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 14-31000, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 4 reinstated a train operator's disability bias claim, finding that a district court erred in determining that under Collins v. New York City Transit Authority (305 F.3d 113 [2d Cir. 2002]), a state agency's dismissal of the claim was binding (Juan A. Cortes v. MTA New York City Transit, No. 14-713, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15775).
NEW YORK - Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, courts may review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted an investigation, not whether the investigation was sufficient, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 9 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sterling Jewelers Inc., No. 14-1782, 2nd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California fire protection district did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to compensate firefighters for the time they spend traveling to pick up their required gear, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 4, upholding a trial court's decision (Steve Balestrieri, et al. v. Menlo Park Fire Protection District, No. 12-15975, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15785).
CINCINNATI - An employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it terminated an employee one day after he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 3 (John Yarberry v. Gregg Appliances, Inc., No. 14-3960, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15879).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 4 enforced a National Labor Relations Board decision finding that a car dealership violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when leaders made statements threatening to punish union-supporting employees and then fired one employee linked to the union organizing efforts (AutoNation, Inc., et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 14-2991 and 14-3361, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15771).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 2 rejected a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to abandon the two-step, burden-shifting framework established in Ketterer v. Department of Agriculture (2 M.S.P.R. 294 ) and use in its place a single-step analysis of the efficiency of the service (Beth F. Cobert, Acting Director, Office of Personnel Management v. Mary A. Miller, Merit Systems Protection Board, No. 2014-3101, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15566).
ST. LOUIS - The Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) did not breach its fiduciary duty by denying life insurance benefits to the widow of a policyholder who failed to disclose a cancer diagnosis received post-application but before the policy was issued, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 3 (Yafei Huang v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 14-3401, 8th Cir. 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15677).