DALLAS - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Feb. 20 filed a complaint against Shepherd Healthcare in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging that the Texas medical practice violated federal law when it fired an employee due to her requests to be excused from a daily morning Bible study and fired three other workers for their opposition of the mandatory Bible studies (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Tim Shepherd MD, PA, No. 17-2569, N.D. Texas).
TRENTON, N.J. - A plaintiff's failure to respond to a motion to dismiss her class suit accusing the Princeton University trustees of mishandling the university's retirement plan did not entirely doom her suit as a New Jersey federal judge, on Sept. 19, ruled that the plaintiff partially stated claims for relief as to breach of the duty of prudence and granted leave to amend the other dismissed claims (Elysee Nicolas, et al. v. The Trustees of Princeton University, No. 17-3695, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151775).
SHERMAN, Texas - A Texas federal judge on Sept. 19 refused to dismiss a plaintiff's breach of fiduciary claims arising out of a health care plan's denial of coverage for autism treatments because the fiduciary claims are not disguised benefits claims and the plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to support the breach of fiduciary claims (Amy Whitley, et al. v. Dr Pepper Snapple Group Health Plan, et al., No. 17-47, E.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152417).
CHARLESTON, S.C. - A South Carolina federal judge on Sept. 19 trimmed claims challenging above-market leases and excessive executive compensation, but otherwise denied motions to dismiss filed by Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. Inc. (PWCC), its former executives and two other individuals sued by former employees for allegedly destroying the value of company stock held by the Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust (Dana Spires, et al. v. David R. Schools, et al., No. 16-616, D. S.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152128).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge granted conditional certification in a wage-and-hour lawsuit filed by individuals paid to catch chickens who allege that their piece-rate pay violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Jimmy R. Nicks, et al. v. Koch Meat Co., Inc., et al., No. 16-6446, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150763).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 18 certified a class of home health workers who sued their former employer under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act claiming that they were fired without notice and denied pay (Toni Molina, et al. v. Ace Homecare LLC, et al., No. 16-2214, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151039).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A critical care emergency medical transport company is entitled to further jurisdictional discovery into the individuals involved in denying its health insurance claim and where a defendant defends suits, a federal magistrate judge held Sept. 18 (Med Flight Air Ambulance Inc. v. MGM Resorts International, et al., No. 17-246, D. N.M., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151265).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 18 affirmed a ruling in which a district court found that a motorman who was injured while working aboard a vessel must arbitrate his claims against his employer in the Philippines pursuant to his employment contract (Rodrigo R. Pagaduan v. Carnival Corporation, et al., No. 16-465, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17981).
CHICAGO - A decision by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to fire a more than 20-year employee shortly after he disclosed a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis did not constitute disability discrimination, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 18 (Jeff Monroe v. Indiana Department of Transportation, et al., No. 16-1959, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17977).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Sept. 14 awarded a disability claimant more than $100,000 in attorney fees after determining that the award was warranted because the claimant achieved "some degree" of success on the merits (Robert Bosley v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-00139, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149453).
DENVER - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 14 upheld a ruling for a New Mexico County Board of Commissioners being sued for various wage violations by hourly employees, except as to a 911 dispatcher's claims that she should be paid for pre-shift briefings, finding that the briefings are integral and indispensable for incoming dispatchers (Martha S. Jimenez, et al. v. Board of County Commissioners of Hidalgo County, No. 15-2213, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17780).
HOUSTON - A health plan beneficiary is owed full coverage for a gastric bypass surgery and a follow-up surgery and care required after she experienced complications, a Texas federal judge ruled Sept. 14, finding that the beneficiary's evidence that she has experienced nausea and vomiting placed her within the health plan's exception to its weight loss surgery exclusion (Karen A. Rittinger v. Health Alliance Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 16-639, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149394).
PHILADELPHIA - A majority of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 15 held that an ambiguous pension plan accords the plan administrator discretion to interpret the plan terms and the mere existence of a conflict of interest is not sufficient enough to raise skepticism of the administrator's calculation of a monthly pension payment for a retiree who was deemed totally disabled 15 years before his retirement (John E. Dowling v. Pension Plan for Salaried Employees of Union Pacific Corporation and affiliates, et al., No. 16-1977, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17863).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Sept. 14 awarded attorney fees and incentive awards following the $60.8 million settlement reached between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and a class of drivers who brought wage claims against their employer, but in amounts below those requested by the plaintiffs (Charles Ridgeway, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 08-cv-05221, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149440).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 12 affirmed a summary judgment ruling for an employer that was by a mother who alleged that her now deceased son was discriminated against when he was fired shortly after a cancer diagnosis (Verna J. Floyd v. Chilly's L.L.C. of Alabama, No. 17-30384, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17582).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 11 granted a motion for certification filed by a class of nurses who allege that their employer erred by automatically deducting 30 minutes from their pay per day for a meal break even though the nurses often had to work during those breaks (Lynnett Myers, et al. v. Marietta Memorial Hospital, et al., No. 15-2956, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146233).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 11 refused to reconsider its finding that a woman was totally disabled under the terms of her Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed long-term disability plan and that the plan administrator did not satisfactorily supported its conclusion that she was ever capable of full-time work after November 2007 (Jill Marcin v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-7125, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17551).
SAN FRANCISCO - A district court correctly concluded that a disability claimant is not entitled to long-term disability benefits because the claimant failed to prove that her disability had a physical component that would not be excluded under the plan's mental-health limitation, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 11 (Leah A. Bilyeu v. Morgan Stanley Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 16-15254 No. 16-15314, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17510).
SEATTLE - A human resources expert for tree-trimming business Asplundh Tree Experts Co. in a former worker's sexual harassment suit cannot testify at trial because his opinions are unreliable and irrelevant and do not offer any expertise to assist a jury, a Washington federal judge held Sept. 12 (Brittany Easton v. Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., No. 16-1694, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147508).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on Sept. 11 granted preliminary approval of a $1.4 million settlement to be paid by the owner of California yoga studios that is accused of failing to fully compensate its instructors for all work and failing to provide overtime, meal and rest breaks (Shauna Barnard v. CorePower Yoga LLC, No. 16-3861, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146745).
NEWARK, N.J. - A health insurance plan's provision barring insureds from assigning rights leaves a provider pursuing its individual right to payment under state law and precludes removal and preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a federal judge in New Jersey held Sept. 11 (Progressive Spine & Orthopaedics LLC v. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, No. 17-536, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147466).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 found that a lower federal court did not err in striking two paragraphs of a plainitff's declaration filed in opposition to his former employer's motion for summary judgment in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit, further affirming the lower court's denial of the plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the judgment based on newly discovered evidence (Robert Liebman v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 16-17440, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17426).
NEW YORK - Parking production assistants (PPAs) employed by Paramount Pictures Corp. filed a motion on Sept. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking final approval of a $700,000 settlement to be paid by Paramount to end claims that the PPAs were denied overtime pay, forced to work without any breaks and often forced to go to the bathroom in their cars or pay local businesses in order to use their restrooms (Christian Pellot, et al. v. Paramount Pictures Corporation, et al., No. 16-463, S.D. N.Y.).
BALTIMORE - Workers employed by a landscaping company under the H-2B visa program may proceed with class claims that they were improperly denied wages, paid at a rate less than that mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and denied reimbursement of certain expenses, a Maryland federal judge ruled Sept. 7, noting that to the extent that certain DOL H-2B visa regulations are currently under review, a stay of the action or severance of the claim may be appropriate if those related proceedings are not resolved before the trial in the present case (Aviles-Cervantes, et al. v. Outside Unlimited, Inc., No. 16-1214, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144847).
DALLAS - A staffing agency that provided a prep cook to a hospital while in the midst of contract negotiations to provide additional staff may not proceed with retaliation and bias claims against the hospital because it lacked an employment relationship, a Texas federal judge ruled Sept. 7 (White Glove Staffing, Inc., et al. v. Methodist Hospitals of Dallas, et al., No. 17-1158, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144706).