SANTA ANA, Calif. - Federal law preempts a district attorney's California unfair competition law (UCL) action seeking civil penalties for violation of state workplace safety regulations because the state's federally approved workplace safety plan lacks such a remedy, an appeals court held Feb. 24 (Solus Industrial Innovations LLC, et al. v. The Superior Court of Orange Co., The People, real party in interest, No. G047661, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 4).
NEW YORK - Bankrupt law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf on Feb. 24 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York contending that the Bankruptcy Court should deny a motion by a class of former employees that claims that the firm violated federal law when it terminated their employment (Vittoria Conn v. Dewey & LeBoeuf [In Re: Dewey & LeBoeuf], No. 12-12321, Adv. No. 12-01672, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
BOSTON - A Massachusetts federal judge on Feb. 21 sent an overtime and minimum wages class complaint back to state court, finding that the amount in controversy was less than $75,000 (Peter Huston, et al. v. FLS Language Centres d/b/a FLS International, et al., No. 13-13158, D. Mass.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21960).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 24 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant a cruise line's motion to compel arbitration, finding that an employee's injury-related negligence and other claims fell within the scope of an arbitration clause in his employment contract (Melvin Gualberto Medina Martinez v. Carnival Corp., a.k.a. Carnival Cruise Lines Inc., No. 12-15164, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3382).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 upheld the denial of a former telecommunications employee's disability bias and retaliation claims, finding that the employer provided sufficient accommodations (Richard John Hamedl, et al. v. Verizon Communications, Inc., et al., No. 12-4101, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3058).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 24 denied two petitions for writ of certiorari filed by Sears Roebuck and Co. and Whirlpool Corp. in relation to rulings that granted class certification for various purchasers of front-loading washing machines who allege that a defect causes mold growth (Sears Roebuck and Co. v. Larry Butler, et al., No. 13-430, U.S. Sup.; Whirlpool Corp. v. Gina Glazer, et al., No. 13-431, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 24 granted a petition for a writ of certiorari in a lawsuit over the validity of class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements and remanded the case to the Second District California Court of Appeal for further consideration in light of its ruling in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant (570 U.S. __ ) (CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC, et al. v. John Wade Fowler, et al., No. 13-439, U.S. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 19 partially dismissed a dispute related to the payment of health care benefits for the treatment of autism, dismissing claims for legal damages and breach of contract but leaving a claim for equitable remedies (Patrick C. Jarman v. Capital Blue Cross, et al., No. 13-932, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20464).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 21 dismissed a class complaint filed by prison employees who claimed they were denied full pay for mandatory meal breaks during which they were still "on call" (Sandra J. Babcock, et al. v. Butler County, et al., No. 12-394, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22170).
ATLANTA - In an unpublished per curiam opinion, a panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 affirmed the dismissal of a class action complaint brought by a group of medical associations and medical providers against multiple health insurers for allegedly wrongfully reducing payments for out-of-network services provided to the insureds' members, agreeing that the claims were "released claims" barred by settlement agreements in a similar case (The American Medical Association, et al. v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-10916, 11th Cir.; 1014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3088).
ATLANTA - A police officer's claim that he was owed overtime compensation did not trigger an internal affairs investigation, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 19 (Lazaro Cabrera, et al. v. Town of Lady Lake, Florida, No. 13-11885, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3003).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 reinstated a steel worker's defamation claim against the unions that represented him and the union vice president arising out of a fact-finding meeting concerning a workplace dispute (Dave Thomas v. United Steelworkers Local 1938, et al., No. 12-3625, 8th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3071).
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Feb. 20 that Philadelphia-area sports bar and restaurant chain Chickie's & Pete's has agreed to pay more than $6.84 million in back wages and damages; on the same day, a settlement agreement valued at more than $1.68 million was filed in a consolidated wage-and-hour complaint filed against Chickie's & Pete's in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by approximately 90 employees (Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor v. Chickie's and Pete's, Inc., et al., No. 14-1042, E.D. Pa.; In Re Chickie's & Pete's Wage and Hour Litigation, No. 12-6820, E.D. Pa.).
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu on Feb. 20 ordered that no further testimony will occur in the trial of the lawsuit filed by California students against the state challenging teacher employment laws until he is able to rule on a motion for judgment filed by the state (Beatriz Vergara, et al. v. State of California, et al., No. BC484642, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 18 reversed an order remanding a wage-and-hour class complaint to state court after finding that the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) amount-in-controversy requirement was met (P. Rea, et al. v. Michaels Stores Inc., No. 14-55008, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 2928).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on Feb. 14 granted a motion by a clothing retailer to transfer a wage-and-hour class complaint to a different California federal court (Alexander Brown, et al. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., et al., No. 13-5205, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19414).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A creditor in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case of Revstone Industries LLC on Feb. 18 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware objecting to 21 claims filed against the bankruptcy estate by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) (In Re: Revstone Industries LLC, No. 12-13262, Chapter 11, D. Del. Bkcy.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Dismissal of wage-and-hour citations by the state clears the way for a wage-and-hour class complaint to proceed in federal court in its entirety, a California federal magistrate judge ruled Feb. 13 (Margot Camp, et al. v. Jeffrey P. Alexander DDS, et al., No. 13-3386, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19131).
LOS ANGELES - The intervenors - the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) - and the State of California, which are proceeding with a joint presentation in the trial of the lawsuit filed by California students against the state challenging teacher employment laws, called their first witness to the stand on Feb. 18 (Beatriz Vergara, et al. v. State of California, et al., No. BC484642, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Feb. 13 dismissed a class action lawsuit related to the denial of health care benefits based on a plan's subrogation provisions, saying that some claims were preempted by federal law and that the plan administrator acted in accordance with plan terms in denying benefits (Joe Hollingshead v. Aetna Health Inc., No. 13-231, S.D. Texas; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18770).
FORT WORTH, Texas - A federal Texas judge on Feb. 12 remanded a prompt pay case to state court, saying that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act did not preempt the claims (Texas Health Resources v. Aetna Health Inc., No. 13-1013, N.D. Texas; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17939).
ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 14 affirmed that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempted several provisions of Georgia's state code related to prompt payment of health care claims (America's Health Insurance Plans v. Ralph T. Hudgens, in his Official Capacity as Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, No. 13-10349, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 2771).
NEW ORLEANS - The spouses of employees who are suing their employer over an incentive points program can't be included in the number of class members in order to decide jurisdiction, a Louisiana federal judge ruled Feb. 13 (Sharon Stump, et al. v. Samuel Camp, et al., No. 13-6739, E.D. La.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18411).
SEATTLE - The Washington Supreme Court on Feb. 13 heard arguments over whether an employer's decision to have employees return to an area where asbestos work was being done constitutes an "intentional injury" under the workers' compensation statutes (Gary G. Walston and Donna Walston v. The Boeing Co., No. 885117, Wash. Sup.).
RENO, Nev. - Rejecting an insurer's argument that an insurance policy's securities exclusion precludes coverage for an underlying Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) lawsuit, a Nevada federal judge on Feb. 13 refused to dismiss an insured's breach of contract claims against the insurer (International Game Technology, Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co., No. 3:13-cv-00026-RCJ-WGC, D. Nev.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18364).