NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Oct. 13 allowed three counts in a putative class action complaint alleging that Deutsche Bank entities mismanaged their 401(k) plan in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to proceed, saying that the plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary duty claim plausibly alleges that the plan fiduciaries breached their duties to act in the best interest of the plan and with due care by failing to remove excessively costly proprietary mutual funds (Ramon Moreno, et al. v. Deutsche Bank Americas Holding Corp., et al., No. 1:15cv9936, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142601).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Oct. 12 granted several motions to dismiss filed by defendants in a securities class action lawsuit against a semiconductor producer and certain of its current and former executive officers, ruling that the lead plaintiff in the action failed to plead the elements of its securities fraud claims as required (Daniel Luna v. Marvell Technology Group Ltd., et al., No. 15-5447, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141567).
MINNEAPOLIS - A former Wells Fargo & Co. employee and participant in its 401(k) plan on Oct. 14 filed a class action complaint under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against the company, former and current executives and investment committee members, alleging that they breached their fiduciary duty by, among other things, retaining common stock of Wells Fargo as an investment option in the plan when a reasonable fiduciary using the "care, skill prudence, and diligence . . . that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters" would have done otherwise (Lynette Fletcher, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 0:16-cv-03495, D. Minn.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel erred in affirming a federal jury's verdict against a French company for issuing a series of misrepresentations regarding liquidity in violation of federal securities law, and rehearing is necessary because the ruling is in conflict with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the company argues in an Oct. 11 motion for rehearing and rehearing en banc (In re Vivendi S.A. Securities Litigation, No. 15-180, 2nd Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Oct. 6 denied most parts of a motion to dismiss a class action complaint accusing a man's former employer, Wawa Inc., of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it forced him and other terminated employees to sell their stock in the company because Wawa's reservation of a right to amend the plan "at any time" did not necessarily give it the authority to reduce the plaintiffs' benefits (Greg Pfeifer v. Wawa, Inc., et al., No. 16-497, E.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 denied a petition for writ of certiorari asking it to consider whether a party that is not an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participant, an ERISA beneficiary or a health care provider has standing to sue an insurer under ERISA for benefits (Gables Insurance Recovery Inc., as assignee of South Miami Chiropractic LLC, v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., No. 16-64, U.S. Sup.).
MINNEAPOLIS - A participant in and beneficiary of the Wells Fargo & Co.'s 401(k) Plan filed a putative class action lawsuit in Minnesota federal court Oct. 7, alleging violations of Sections 409 and 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for allegedly encouraging and causing employees to sign up customers for unauthorized and unwanted accounts and other banking products to generate inflated share price growth (Francesca Allen, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 16-3405, D. Minn.).
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals panel held Oct. 6 that monetary relief for extracontractual harm is legally recoverable under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, reversing a lower court's ruling that insurers have no duty to defend a managed care company against underlying lawsuits (Health Net, Inc. v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co., et al., No. B262716, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3; 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7296).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Oct. 4 awarded more than $2.5 million in attorney fees, costs and class representative awards in a case alleging that various fiduciaries violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by permitting the Eastman Kodak Employees' Savings and Investment (SIP) and Kodak Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) to offer Kodak stock as an investment option even after an objective investigation would have revealed that the stock represented an "extremely risky investment" (In re: Eastman Kodak ERISA Litigation, No. 6:12cv6051, W.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137744).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Oct. 4 granted an insurer's motion to dismiss insureds' fraud claims in a dispute arising from roof damage caused by Hurricane Charley (Ida L. Cruz, et al. v. American Security Insurance Co., No. 16-1317, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137548).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 heard oral arguments in an appeal of an insider trading conviction where the parties have asked the Supreme Court to determine whether the defendants' personal benefits in the scheme "require proof of 'an exchange that is objective, consequential, and represents at least a potential gain of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature,'" as the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held in United States v. Newman (773 F.3d 438 [2d Cir. 2014]) (Bassam Yacoub Salman v. United States of America, No. 15-628, U.S. Sup.).
CINCINNATI - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 30 ruled that the City of Cincinnati's requirements for the award of construction contracts for water works jobs are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because they impact the uniformity of the structure and administrative practice for ERISA plans and create "an impediment to uniform benefit administration" (Allied Construction Industries v. City of Cincinnati, No. 1:14cv450, S.D. Ohio; 2016 U.S Dis. LEXIS 135758).
SAN ANTONIO - An insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in denying coverage under a term accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy because no genuine issue of material fact exists regarding whether an insured's diabetes contributed to an amputation after stepping on a nail, a federal judge in Texas ruled Oct. 3 (Randy Price v. Dearborn National Life Insurance Co., No. 15-0369, W.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137289).
PHOENIX - Lifting a stay and unsealing documents in a securities class action lawsuit against a solar energy panel manufacturer and certain officers and directors is not proper because the parties seeking to intervene, lift the stay and unseal the documents - investors in a related shareholder derivative lawsuit - would be permitted to "conduct discovery in aid of their demand futility argument," which has been denied twice in that action, a federal judge in Arizona ruled Sept. 30 (Mark Smilovits, et al. v. First Solar Inc., et al., No. 12-0555, D. Ariz.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135704).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4 declined review of an appeal of an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel's ruling affirming a state court order in a securities class action lawsuit that determined that a jury instruction improperly stated the law governing a federal securities fraud claim (Richard I. Fried v. Stiefel Laboratories Inc., et al., No. 15-1458, U.S. Sup.).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal magistrate judge on Sept. 30 denied the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance's motion to quash a subpoena related to the denial of a woman's mental health treatments, saying a confidentiality provision in the state Health Care Quality Act is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Rachel B. v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, No. 14-cv-01153, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135547).