NEW ORLEANS - A disability insurer abused its discretion in determining that a claimant's entitlement to benefits was limited because a mental disorder contributed to the claimed disability, the majority of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said Jan. 15 (Robert George v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 14-50368, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 658).
PHILADELPHIA - A former chief public defender who was fired following his filing of a lawsuit over the funding of the office and reporting other failures may proceed with his retaliation lawsuit because he pleaded facts sufficient to allege that his speech was as a citizen, not a public official, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 15, vacating the trial court's decision (Albert Flora, Jr. v. County of Luzerne, et al., No. 14-1854, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 671).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured against underlying claims, including tortious interference with contractual relations and business advantages, civil conspiracy, conversion, aiding and abetting a fiduciary breach and misappropriation of trade secrets (Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Gum Tree Property Management, LLC, et al., No. 14- 60302, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 595).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 reinstated a complaint filed by a former Suffolk County, N.Y., police lieutenant who alleges that he was retaliated against for speaking to members of the press, speech that he claims was protected (Raymond Smith v. County of Suffolk, et al., No. 13-1230, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 600).
DENVER - A Kansas municipal worker who was terminated as part of a reduction in force (RIF) failed to prove that she was selected to lose her job due to her age or gender or in retaliation for complaints she made during her employment, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 13 (Lisa Brainard v. City of Topeka, No. 14-3055, 10th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 498).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Jan. 12 partially dismissed a complaint alleging that a health insurance company wrongfully declined to reimburse two health care providers for services, dismissing a fraud claim and granting the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint to assert claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, but otherwise denied the motion (Tran Chiropractic Wellness Center Inc., et al. v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 14-47, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3124).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 12 upheld a trial court's ruling that a contempt order against an employer that is based on a preliminary injunction is not automatically mooted once the underlying unfair labor practice case is adjudicated (Peter S. Ohr, Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board v. Latino Express, Inc., No. 12-2828, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 461).
CHICAGO - An account executive who alleges that she has had a hard time finding employment after her name appeared on select U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings due to bias charges she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against her former employer may proceed with her claims of retaliation, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 12, reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the plaintiff's former employer (Celia Greengrass v. International Monetary Systems Ltd., No. 13-2901, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 464).
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Jan. 8 denied an insured's motion to dismiss the insurer's action seeking a declaration that it has no duty to defend or indemnify the insured against an underlying employee injury lawsuit (Bridgefield Casualty Insurance Co. v. River Oaks Management Inc., No. 14-1665, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2621).
PHILADELPHIA - A former probationary Pennsylvania state trooper failed to show that he was terminated in retaliation for claims of racial discrimination, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 8 (Tony Reaves v. Pennsylvania State Police, No. 14-1555, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 267).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, must first attempt to resolve a claim of bias against a private employer through conciliation before filing suit, the court may conduct a "modest inquiry" into whether that portion of the statue was violated, the attorney representing Mach Mining LLC told the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments on Jan. 13 (Mach Mining, LLC v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 13-1019, U.S. Sup.).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A former tax examiner failed to prove that his firing was retaliatory rather than the result of poor performance, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 9, upholding the trial court's ruling (Olen E. Gibson v. Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, No. 13-2817, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 348).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 12 declined to review a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that an employer that contributed to a multiemployer pension plan did not have a cause of action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or federal common law against the trustees of the plan for harm caused by the trustees' alleged negligent plan management (DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Michael H. Zemla, et al., No. 14-547, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - A district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that a disability claimant could perform sedentary work and, therefore, was not entitled to extended long-term disability benefits, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined Jan. 8, noting that substantial evidence supports the insurer's decision (Judy B. Killen v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 14-10052, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 291).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 7 upheld the firing of a university worker after he took unapproved leave (Anthony H. Szostek v. Drexel University, No. 14-1170, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 226).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 12 denied a petition for writ of certiorari in a bias lawsuit brought by a Michigan county employee who was involuntarily transferred to a position that he had previously applied for (Kalamazoo County Road Commission, et al. v. Robert Deleon, et ux., No. 13-1516, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 5).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 8 remanded a wage-and-hour class complaint for further submission of evidence for the trial court to determine the proper jurisdiction (Jose L. Ibarra, et al. v. Manheim Investments, Inc., et al., No. 14-56779, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 334).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 7 granted a nonprofit health care corporation leave to appeal a ruling that its retirement plan does not qualify for exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act as a church plan (Laurence Kaplan v. Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al., No. 14-8125, 3rd Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A voluntary preretirement program is not a plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Jan. 7 in an unpublished opinion (Robert Buchanan, et al. v. General Motors, LLC, No. 13-1664, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 405).
ATLANTA - A district court did not err in granting a disability insurer's motion for summary judgment because the medical record supports the insurer's claim denial, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 7 (Rachael Cook v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-10473, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 187).
ROCK HILL, S.C. - A class action is not the best vehicle for litigating claims from almost 16,000 individuals allegedly shut out of the workers' compensation system after their attorneys pursued asbestos bankruptcy trust claims without first notifying employers, a federal judge in South Carolina said Jan. 8 (Odell Parker, et al. v. Asbestos Processing LLC, et al., No. 11-1800, D. S.C., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37336).
WICHITA, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on Jan. 7 dismissed with prejudice a complaint that was initially filed against The Boeing Co. and Spirit Aerosystems as a class action and later reduced to individual claims by 26 people alleging age discrimination (Perry Apsley, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 05-1368, D. Kan.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1181).
FLINT, Mich. - The sponsor of a top-hat plan violated the terms of the plan by failing to timely withhold Federal Income Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, a federal judge in Michigan ruled Jan. 6 in granting partial summary judgment to a class of retirees on their claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (John B. Davidson, et al. v. Henkel Corporation, et al., No. 12-cv-14103, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 722).
CINCINNATI - Meal periods during which casino security guards remain on site and monitor their radios in case of an emergency are not compensable, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 7 (Angelia Ruffin, et al. v. MotorCity Casino, d/b/a Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., No. 14-1444, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 236).
CHICAGO - A retirement plan sponsored by an employer associated with a church on Jan. 8 filed a motion for interlocutory appeal of a federal judge in Illinois' ruling that the plan does not qualify as a church plan exempt from the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Maria Stapleton, et al. v. Advocate Health Care Network and Subsidiaries, et al., No. 14 C 01873, N.D. Ill.)