CAMDEN, N.J. - Calling a jury's punitive damages verdict in favor of a former Lockheed Martin Corp. employee on his claims of age discrimination a shock to "this court's conscience," a New Jersey federal judge on Dec. 18 granted a motion for a new trial filed by Lockheed as to the $50 million award (Robert Braden v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 14-4215, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207236).
SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 18 affirmed a lower federal court's finding that an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan administrator abused its discretion in denying early retirement benefits (ERB) to a claimant (Peter Evan Dresel v. Pension Plan of the Pacific Northwest Laboratories, et al., Nos. 15-35643 and 15-35652, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25522).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 held that a lower court erred in granting judgment in favor of a physician-owned hospital in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute with a managed health care company, finding that the lower court failed to apply the required abuse of discretion analysis (Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., et al. v. Humble Surgical Hospital LLC, No. 16-20398, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25588).
DENVER - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 19 upheld a trial court's ruling that Catholic Health Initiatives' (CHI) retirement plan is a "church plan" that qualifies as exempt under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Janeen Medina, et al. v. Catholic Health Initiatives, et al., No. 16-1005, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25563).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A California appeals court panel on Dec. 19 overturned a trial court judge's ruling dismissing a man's lawsuit accusing his former supervisor and employer of violating the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) by making false statements that resulted in the denial of his claim, finding that the suit was not barred by the litigation privilege or the workers' compensation exclusivity rule (California, ex. rel. Mahmoud Alzayat v. Gerald Hebb, et al., No. E066471, Calif. App., 4th Dist., 2nd Div., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 1133).
CHICAGO - An aviation maintenance technician's breach of contract class claims filed after his employer eliminated the program under which he was hired, affecting the speed at which he would achieve the top pay he was promised, are preempted by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), an Illinois federal judge ruled Dec. 18, granting the defendant's motion to dismiss (Thomas Ballard, et al. v. American Airlines, Inc., No. 17-2534, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206948).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 15 overruled Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB 934 (2011), clarified the standard to be used for determining whether a proposed bargaining unit constitutes an appropriate unit for collective bargaining and reinstated the community-of-interest standard as outlined in United Operations, Inc., 338 NLRB 123 (2002) (PCC Structurals, Inc. and International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, District Lodge W24, No. 19-RC-202188, NLRB).
DENVER - A retirement plan participant suing a fund operator for various violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act failed to show on the first two claims that the defendant was a fiduciary and failed to meet the required heightened showing that the operator was a party in interest (John Teets v. Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, No. 14-2330, D. Colo.).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on Dec. 13 denied a disability claimant's motion to compel the production of documents related to the doctors who reviewed the claimant's case after determining that the administrative record is sufficient to determine whether the insurer operated under a conflict of interest (Karin Reidy v. The Unum Life Insurance Company of America et al., No. 16-2926, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204705).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability claimant's suit is barred under Louisiana's applicable one-year statute of limitations because the suit was not filed within a year after the claimant requested plan documents from the plan administrator (Todd M. Babin v. Quality Energy Services Inc., No. 17-30059, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25275).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board, in a 3-2 decision issued Dec. 15, overruled E.I. du Pont de Nemours, 364 NLRB No. 113 (2016) (DuPont), calling the majority opinion "fundamentally flawed" and holding that an employer's modification of unit employee health care benefits following the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was simply a continuation of past practice and not a "change" requiring notice to the union and an opportunity to bargain (Raytheon Network Centric Systems and United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, No. 25-CA-092145, NLRB).
CHICAGO - Calling an anti-suit injunction an "extraordinary" form of relief, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 14 found that a district court erred in providing that relief to a sandwich shop franchisor that is being sued in three consolidated suits seeking wages, in parallel wage cases where the franchisor is not named as a defendant and claims are brought only against the franchisees (In re: Jimmy John's Overtime Litigation, No. 17-1655, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25282).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board in a 3-2 vote on Dec. 14 overruled the standard governing workplace rules and whether they interfere with the exercise of rights protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and established a new test to be used when evaluating a facially neutral policy, rule or handbook provision that could potentially interfere with the exercise of NLRA rights (The Boeing Company and Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001, Nos. 19-CA-090932, 19-CA-090948 and 19-CA-095926, NLRB).
LOS ANGELES - After finding that the city of Los Angeles' claims that a company and its owner conspired with subcontractors to pay employees wages less than the prevailing rate while working on a construction project were sufficient to support a claim for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), a state appellate panel on Dec. 12 reversed the trial court's ruling sustaining demurrers as to the city's claims against them (The People v. Mackone Development, et al., No. B268991, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 7, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8463).
LOS ANGELES - A health insurer waived the right to deny coverage for vertebrate fusion surgery as experimental when it preauthorized the procedure, albeit with a different device, a federal judge in California held Dec. 12, entering judgment for the plaintiff on her Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims (Aubrey Cohorst v. Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky Inc., No. 16-7925, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204362).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 14, in a 3-2 decision overruled the 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, 362 NLRB No. 186 (2015), and reinstated the joint-employer standard in place prior to that decision (Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co., et al., Nos. 25-CA-163189, 25-CA-163208, 25-CA-163297, 25-CA-163317, 25-CA-163373, 25-CA-163376, 25-CA-163398, 25-CA-163414, 25-CA-164941, and 25-CA-164945, NLRB).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on Dec. 12 found that a cruise line worker's negligence claims against her employer must be arbitrated in the Bahamas pursuant to the terms of her employment agreement, but remanded claims against another cruise line and her coworker to a state court, because they were not signatories to the arbitration agreement (Michelle Haasbroek v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 17-cv-22370, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204025).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Dec. 8 granted a motion for conditional certification of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claim brought by current and former employees of Sephora USA Inc. but denied the plaintiffs' request for equitable tolling (Lacey Hernandez, et al. v. Sephora USA, Inc., No. 16-5392, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203452).
WARREN, Ohio - A divided Ohio appeals court panel on Dec. 11 upheld certification of a class of sales people suing the employer for "pulling" earned commissions, finding that the fact that the class definition encompasses some employees who signed an arbitration agreement not signed by the class representative does not doom the certification (Edward G. Gembarski, et al. v. PartsSource, Inc., No. 2016-P-0077, Ohio App., 11st Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 5383).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Dec. 11 stayed the proceedings in a wage-and-hour class complaint filed by a restaurant employee in which the defendants moved to compel arbitration, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Morris v. Ernst & Young LLP, 834 F. 3d 975 (9th Cir. 2016), certiorari granted, Ernst & Young, LLP v. Morris, 137 S. Ct. 809 (2017) (Jener Da Silva v. Darden Restaurants, Inc., et al., No. 17-5663, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203437).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Dec. 8 partially granted conditional certification in a class complaint brought by a restaurant franchise assistant manager (AM) who alleges that she and others were misclassified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois wage laws but granted a motion to dismiss by one of the franchisee defendants and gave the lead plaintiff one month to amend her complaint to show that that the defendant was her employer (Chamora Ivery, et al. v. RMH Franchise Corp., et al., No. 17-1619, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202270).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Dec. 8, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay request filed by a retiree seeking reinstatement terminated health benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the employer being sued waived its right to respond to the retiree's petition for writ of certiorari (George W. Mathias v. United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, et al., No. 17-740, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 7 reversed the denial of class certification in a wage-and-hour complaint, finding that the pleadings provided sufficient notice to the employer of violations of California Labor Code Section 226(a) violations, whether direct or derivative, and the district court must conduct a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 analysis (Silken Brown, et al. v. Cinemark USA, Inc., et al., No. 16-15377, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24764).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 11 refused to review the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that a New York law barring the offset of a claimant's disability benefits with the proceeds of the claimant's settlement of a personal injury suit is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. Salvatore Arnone, No. 17-416, U.S. Sup.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Dec. 7 granted a motion to remand a wage-and-hour class complaint by yard hostlers, finding that the federal court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claims because the amount in controversy, minus an estimate on the damages statement for an unpleaded claim, is below $5 million (Grant Frisch v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC, No. 17-2226, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202705).