WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 17 let stand a divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 510 does not protect a one-time unsolicited complaint to an employer about alleged violations of ERISA (Brian Sexton v. Panel Processing, Inc., et al., No. 14-152, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania man filed a class complaint on Nov. 12 against The Coca-Cola Co. and its divisions, alleging that the personal information of more than 70,000 employees has been compromised due to the theft of 55 laptop computers from Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) between 2007 and 2013 (Shane K. Enslin, et al. v. The Coca-Cola Company, et al., No. 14-6476, E.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The de minimus "bit of paperwork" required to opt out of contraceptive coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s contraceptive mandate does not substantially burden religious exercise and is the least restrictive means of ensuring universal access to such coverage, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Nov. 14 (Priests for Life, et al. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., No. 13-5368; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., Nos. 13-5371, 14-5021, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - An employee claiming failure to pay minimum or overtime wages must, at a minimum, allege at least one workweek where overtime hours were worked and either overtime pay or minimum wages were not provided, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 12 in an issue the panel identified as one of first impression (Greg Landers, et al. v. Quality Communications, Inc., et al., No. 12-15890, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21440).
NEW YORK - A New York City restaurant will pay $2.4 million to end wage-and-hour claims filed against it by wait staff, bussers and chefs, according to a settlement granted final approval by a New York federal judge on Nov. 12 (Sakiko Fujiwara, et al. v. Sushi Yasuda Ltd., et al., No. 12-8742, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159140).
PHILADELPHIA - Because a lawsuit seeking survivor retirement benefits was not filed within four years of the termination of benefits, the suit is time-barred pursuant to Pennsylvania's applicable four-year statute of limitations, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Nov. 12 (Lynn K. Christian v. Honeywell Retirement Benefit Plan, No. 14-1084, 3rd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21410).
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - An insurer has no duty to defend its farm insured against an underlying injury claim brought by an independent contractor because the employers liability coverage extends only to injuries of employees, a Tennessee federal judge ruled Nov. 10, granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment in a declaratory judgment suit (Danny Swafford v. Forestry Mutual Insurance Co., No.1:14-CV-00093, E.D. Tenn.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158837).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A judge's "kind statements" from the bench do not indicate that her $3.8 million asbestos verdict includes damages unavailable in a survival action, a divided Louisiana appeals court held Nov. 10 (Dorothy Carter White, et al. v. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana LLC, et al., No. 2013 CA 1608, La. App., 1st Cir.; 2014 La. App. LEXIS 2712).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in King v. Burwell (No. 14-114, U.S. Sup.) warrants staying en banc review of a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) case challenging the availability of tax subsidies, plaintiffs told the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 10 (Jacqueline Halbig, et al. v. Sylvia M. Burwell, et al., No. 14-5018, D.C. Cir.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An in-home direct care worker's class complaint seeking unpaid overtime fails because she brought her claims pursuant to state law when she and the other workers are actually subject to federal law, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 7 (Carol King, et al. v. West Virginia's Choice, Inc., No. 13-1255, W.Va. Sup.; 2014 W. Va. LEXIS 1174).
JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. - A woman's epithelial mesothelioma was the same disease she was diagnosed with in 2002, making her 2012 suit untimely, a New York justice held Nov. 5 (Linda Wells v. Abex Corp., et al., No. 48156/12, N.Y. Sup., Schenectady Co.).
TOLEDO, Ohio - An Ohio federal magistrate judge on Nov. 6 granted a plaintiff's motion to quash discovery of materials related to the planning and preparation of her ex-husband's will and estate in a dispute over life and disability insurance benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), finding that they were subject to the attorney-client privilege (Anette Davis v. Mary Ann Drake, et al., No. 3:14-cv-00113, N.D. Ohio; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157313).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge, in an order filed Nov. 5, remanded a class complaint accusing Costco Wholesale Corp. of various wage violations, finding that the warehouse club failed to prove that the complaint met the $5 million Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) threshold or the $75,000 diversity jurisdiction threshold (Paula Dittmar, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., No. 14-1156, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156666).
SAN FRANCISCO - A health care provider has constitutional standing as an assignee of health plan beneficiaries to bring claims for payment of benefits against the plan administrator under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Nov. 5 (Spinedex Physical Therapy USA Incorporated, et al. v. United HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., et al., No. 12-17604, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21132).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ordinary contract interpretation should be applied to a dispute over the life of retiree health benefits and, where the contract is silent, courts should apply the relevant default principles, an attorney representing M&G Polymers USA LLC told the high court on Nov. 10 in a dispute over how long retiree health benefits are promised (M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et al. v. Hobert Freel Tackett, et al., No. 13-1010, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 10 denied review of an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a deferential standard of review applies in cases in which retirement plan participants' claim that the plan's fiduciaries breached their statutory duties of loyalty and prudence under Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 404 (Ronald Tussey, et al. v. ABB, Inc., et al., No. 14-130, U.S. Sup.).
RALEIGH, N.C. - Where a man develops and dies of an occupationally related asbestos disease after retiring because of an unrelated disease, death benefits may be based on his last year of work, a North Carolina appeals court affirmed Nov. 4 (Shirley Lipe, et al. v. Starr Davis Company Inc., et al., No. COA14-90-2, N.C. App.; 2014 N.C. App. LEXIS 1127).
MADISON, Wis. - To the extent that plaintiffs can "untangle" community asbestos exposures from those barred by workers' compensation statutes, they may proceed with nuisance claims against an employer, a Wisconsin federal judge held Nov. 4 in partially granting reconsideration (Milton Boyer and Kathy Boyer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-286, Richard Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-186, Janet Pecher, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-147, Virginia Prust, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-143, Roger Seehafer and Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-161, Wesley F. Sydow and Theresa Sydow v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-219, W.D. Wis.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 7 agreed to decide whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorizes tax subsidies for individuals who enroll in insurance through state exchanges (David King, et al. v. Sylvia Mathew Burwell, et al., No. 14-114, U.S. Sup.).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Nov. 6 dismissed three state law claims against a disability insurer after determining that the claims are clearly preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (James Breland v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 14-352, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156920).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two attorneys and a doctor accused of filing fraudulent asbestos actions against CSX Transportation Inc. will pay the railway $7.3 million, ending almost 10 years of litigation alleging racketeering and fraud, the company said in a Nov. 6 press release
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Nov. 5 ruled that a disability insurer does not have to produce communications regarding a disability claim because the claimant has not shown that the information requested is necessary for the resolution of the case (Lizabeth Healy v. Fortis Benefits Insurance Co., et al., No.14-832, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156549).
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The government has not shown that the accommodation it offers religious employers with objections to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of accomplishing its goals, two colleges told the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 4 (Dordt College and Cornerstone University v. Sylvia Burwell, et al., No. 14-2726, 8th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge properly dismissed a health plan participant's putative class action claim that the plan's claim administrator violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying claims until it is provided evidence regarding whether there is a collateral source for coverage, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Nov. 4 in an unpublished opinion (Joe Hollingshead v. Aetna Health Inc., No. 14-20158, 5th Cir.).
MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota federal judge on Oct. 31 determined that an insurer's denial of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary or capricious because the insurer's decision is supported by substantial evidence showing that the claimant's subsequent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is not what caused his termination of employment (Jeff Schmitz v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 13-622, D. Minn.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154885).