SEATTLE - A disability insurer erred in denying a claim for short-term disability (STD) benefits because the claimant adequately proved that she could not perform the functions of her job, a Washington federal judge said April 27 (Dana Mirick v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, et al., No. 14-1801, W.D. Wash.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55676).
TAMPA, Fla. - Federal pleading standards and not Florida's more strict ones apply to an asbestos action, and plaintiffs largely adequately plead negligence, strict liability and fraudulent concealment claims against safety mask and airplane parts defendants, a federal Florida judge ruled April 27 (Darryl S. Dugas and Marsha Dugas v. 3M Co., et al., No. 14-39, M.D. Fla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Courts have a limited authority to review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has met its duty under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to attempt conciliation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled April 29 in a unanimous opinion that vacated a decision by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Mach Mining, LLC v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 13-1019, U.S. Sup.).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on April 23 granted final approval to an offer by Stanley Black & Decker Inc. and other related entities to pay $4.97 million to settle a wage-and-hour class complaint (Donovan Long, et al. v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., et al., No. 14-1246, S.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53595).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on April 23 declined to strike class allegations brought by applicants and employees of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) who allege that the authority's background check policy that disqualifies from employment individuals with a criminal history disproportionately excludes black applicants and employees (Erick Little, et al. v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, et al., No. 14-1289, D. D.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53367).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 27 granted two Catholic groups' petition for certiorari and vacated a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate did not substantially burden religious beliefs. The court remanded the case for further consideration in light of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. (573 U.S. __ ) (Michigan Catholic Conference, et al. v. Burwell, Sec. of H&HS, et al., No 14-701, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 27 agreed to hear the appeal of a constructive discharge suit brought by a former U.S. Postal Service employee and decide if the clock begins ticking when an employee resigns or at the time of an employer's last allegedly discriminatory act (Marvin Green v. Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service, No. 14-613, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 22 determined that a district court correctly applied an abuse of discretion standard of review in a disability benefits suit and correctly determined that the claimant is owed benefits under the policy (R. Jeffrey Evans v. Sun Life & Health Insurance Co., No. 13-55601; 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6688).
SAN FRANCISCO - A District Court erred in applying an abuse-of-discretion standard of review to a benefits denial suit because the summary plan description (SPD) does not constitute the plan document as the insurer argued, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 21 in vacating and remanding the lower court's decision (Matthew Prichard v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. et al., No. 12-17355, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6553).
RICHMOND, Va. - A multiemployer pension fund properly filed a complaint in federal district court to seek review of an arbitration order related to the fund's assessment of withdrawal liability under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 21 (Freight Drivers and Helpers Local Union No. 557 Pension Fund v. Penske Logistics LLC, et al., No. 14-1464, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6557).
CINCINNATI - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act bars an employer in an action brought by multiemployer benefit funds to collect delinquent payments under a union contract from asserting the equitable defenses of laches and estoppel, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 20 (Operating Engineers Local 324 Health Care Plan, et al. v. G & W Construction Company, et al., No. 12-1786, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6420).
SAN ANTONIO - A Texas federal judge on April 16 partially granted a motion for conditional certification of a collective action and authorization for notice in a wage lawsuit brought by Time Warner Cable inbound sales agents (Abbie Garcia, et al. v. TWC Administration, LLC, d/b/a Time Warner Cable, No. 14-985, W.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50384).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A decision by the Alaska Police Standards Council to revoke an officer's police certificate is entitled to deference, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled April 17 (Alaska Police Standards Council v. Lance Parcell, No. S-15364, Alaska Sup.; 2015 Alas. LEXIS 40).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 declined to review a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a multiemployer welfare fund was not entitled to reimbursement from another insurer for benefits paid on behalf of a plan beneficiary who was covered by both insurers because the claims were not "appropriate equitable relief" under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Health and Welfare Fund, et al. v. Gerber Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-987, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 declined to consider whether the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in ruling that pension plan trustees' claims that Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act related to the purchase of life insurance policies for the plan are time-barred (Dublin Eye Associates, P.C., et al. v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-974, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER - Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. LLC, a Texas-based multistate oil drilling company, agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a racial and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and to resolve several cases through separate conciliation agreements, the EEOC and Patterson-UTI both announced April 20 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC, No. 15-600, D. Colo.).
WASHINGTON,D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 denied review of a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) (JHUSA) and its related entities are not fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in regard to allegations by participants in two 401(k) plans that the companies charged excessive fees for their services in breach of its fiduciary duties (Danielle Santomenno, et al. v. John Hancock Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-1054, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - Negligence and strict liability claims involve an employer's duty to provide a safe workspace under Pennsylvania law and would not require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, the federal judge overseeing the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation held April 15 in remanding the case (Rita G. Stellar, et al. v. Allied Signal Inc., et al., No. MDL 875, 14-5083, E.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50066).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania appeals court on April 17 reissued and published an opinion affirming that a couple lacks evidence of exposure to asbestos from brakes on a manufacturer's cranes (Norman J. Sterling and Laura M. Sterling v. P&H Mining Equipment Inc., a/k/a Joy Global Surface Mining Inc., No. 1006 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.; 2015 Pa. Super. LEXIS 186).
LOS ANGELES - Three California residents on April 16 filed a class complaint against their former employer, American Apparel Inc., alleging that the clothing company violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the WARN Act), the California WARN Act and California Business and Professions Code Section 17200, et seq., when it executed a mass layoff earlier in the month without 60 days' notice (Carlos Hirschberg, et al. v. American Apparel, Inc., et al., No. 15-2827, C.D. Calif.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Independent contractors who deliver furniture and provide installation services in New Jersey for Macy's Inc. and Home Delivery Link Inc. moved April 15 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to settle their wage claims for $2.8 million (Henry Badia, et al. v. Home Delivery Link, Inc., et al., No. 12-6920, D. N.J.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 15 upheld the dismissal of claims challenging two ordinances passed by the City of New Orleans related to paid detail for city police officers, finding that the ordinances did not violate the U.S. and state constitutions (Walter Powers, Jr., et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 14-30444, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6158).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on April 13 rejected expert causation testimony and set aside an $11 million friction-products asbestos verdict against Ford Motor Co., finding the "every exposure" theory incompatible with science and state law (Arthur H. Juni Jr. and Mary Juni v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190315/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - The store manager of a discount retailer failed prove that he was improperly denied overtime wages, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 9, upholding a trial court (Albert Itterly, et al. v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., et al., No. 14-1274, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5751).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A health care worker who was fired after experiencing health issues, including being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, failed to prove that her termination was related to her health issues or was discriminatory, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in an opinion issued April 8 (Lucinda Dalton v. ManorCare of West Des Moines IA, LLC, et al., No. 13-3743, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5536).