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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment against Quad in an action brought under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA). In this case, after the last of Quad's employees voted to decertify the union as their bargaining representative, Quad completely withdrew from the fund. The panel held that the Fund correctly applied the partial withdrawal credit pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 1386(b) against Quad's complete withdrawal liability before calculating the twenty-year limitation on annual payments provided for in 29 U.S.C. 1399(c)(1)(B). View "GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund v. Quad/Graphics, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Proctor and Gamble in an action brought by an employee under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) after his disability benefits were terminated. The court held that plaintiff possessed the information necessary to litigate his claim and was thus not prejudiced by any procedural irregularities; the company did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's claim for benefits where the denial letter adequately stated the reasons for supporting its decision; and the company's interpretation of the plan was reasonable and there was substantial evidence to support its decision. The court held that plaintiff's remaining claims were unavailing and the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's request for statutory penalties. View "Leirer v. Procter & Gamble Disability Benefit Plan" on Justia Law

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Scott Brain, a former trustee of the Trust Funds, and the Cook Defendants appealed the district court's entry of judgment against them in a civil enforcement action by the Secretary of the Department of Labor for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and held that the district court did not err in concluding that Brain violated ERISA section 510 by retaliating against a whistleblower. The panel vacated and reversed in part and held that the district court erred in concluding that Brain breached his fiduciary duty in violation of ERISA section 404 by placing the whistleblower on administrative leave. The panel also held that the district court erred in basing the permanent injunction on ERISA section 409; ERISA section 502(a)(5) did not provide an alternative basis for the district court's permanent injunction; the district court did not err in determining that the Cook Defendants were not immune under the attorney immunity doctrine; and the Cook Defendants' remaining arguments were meritless. View "Acosta v. Brain" on Justia Law

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A former employee and participant in Intel’s retirement plans sued the company for allegedly investing retirement funds in violation of ERISA section 1104. The district court dismissed the action as untimely, concluding that the employee had the requisite “actual knowledge” to trigger ERISA’s three-year limitations period, 29 U.S.C. 1113(2). The Ninth Circuit reversed. A two-step process is followed in determining whether a claim is barred by section 1113(2): the court isolates and defines the underlying violation on which the plaintiff’s claim is founded; the court then inquires whether the plaintiff had “actual knowledge” of the alleged breach or violation. Actual knowledge does not mean that a plaintiff had knowledge that the underlying action violated ERISA, nor does it merely mean that a plaintiff had knowledge that the underlying action occurred. The defendant must show that the plaintiff was actually aware of the nature of the alleged breach more than three years before the plaintiff’s action was filed. In an ERISA section 1104 case, the plaintiff must have been aware that the defendant had acted and that those acts were imprudent. Disputes of material fact as to the plaintiff’s actual knowledge precluded summary judgment. View "Sulyma v. Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee" on Justia Law

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Dr. Griffin provided medical care to T.R., a participant in a Central States health plan. Before receiving treatment, T.R. assigned to Griffin the rights to “pursue claims for benefits, statutory penalties, [and] breach of fiduciary duty ….” Griffin confirmed through a Central representative that the plan would pay for the treatment at the usual, reasonable, and customary rate, then treated T.R. and submitted a claim for $7,963. Griffin later challenged the benefits determination, requesting a copy of the summary plan description and documents used to determine her payment. Six months later, Central responded that iSight, a third party, used “pricing methodology” to determine the fee and telling her to negotiate with iSight before engaging in the appeals process that the plan required before a civil suit. Griffin missed a call from iSight, returned the call, and left a message that she “would not take any reductions.” iSight never called back. Central provided a copy of the summary plan description, but no fee schedules or tables. Griffin sued under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), (a)(3), alleging that Central did not pay her the proper rate under the plan; breached its fiduciary duty by not adhering to plan terms; and failed to produce, within 30 days, the summary plan description she requested, nor iSight’s fee schedules. The court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part. Griffin adequately alleged that she is eligible for additional benefits and statutory damages. View "Griffin v. Teamcare" on Justia Law

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Dr. McCann, a radiologist certified in the specialty of interventional radiology, purchased a supplemental long-term disability insurance policy from Provident. After initially issuing payments under the policy, Provident terminated Dr. McCann’s disability benefits based on a determination that Dr. McCann was primarily practicing as a diagnostic radiologist—rather than as an interventional radiologist—at the time he became disabled. The Third Circuit remanded for a determination of whether to consider whether Dr. McCann’s medical conditions prevent him from being able to perform his “substantial and material duties” as an interventional radiologist, as required by the terms of the policy. The court concluded that the claim was governed by the Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001. The Department of Labor has promulgated a safe harbor regulation exempting certain plans from the definition of an “employee welfare benefit plan” but McCann’s then-employer sufficiently endorsed the plan under which his policy was purchased to render the safe harbor inapplicable. Provident incorrectly defined Dr. McCann’s occupation in administering his disability claim; the claim must be evaluated in the context of his specialty—interventional radiology. View "McCann v. Unum Provident" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in part ruling in favor of Putnam Investments, LLC and other fiduciaries of Putnam’s defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plan on Plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that Defendants breached fiduciary duties to the plan's participants, clarifying several principles for the district court that should guide its subsequent rulings on remand. Plaintiffs, two former Putnam employees who participated in the Plan, brought this lawsuit on behalf of a now-certified class of other participants in the Plan and on behalf of the Plan itself pursuant to the civil enforcement provision of ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(2), arguing that Defendants offered a range of mutual investments, including Putnam’s mutual funds, without regard to whether such funds were prudent investment options and that Defendants treated Plan participants worse than other investors in Putnam mutual funds. The district court ruled in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(a)(1)(C), breach of loyalty claim, and disgorgement claim; (2) vacated the court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(b)(3) and the finding that Plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show loss; and (3) remanded for further proceedings. View "Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Prudential and Turner for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and state law. Prudential counterclaimed, seeking repayment of short term disability (STD) benefits it allegedly paid in error. The district court rejected plaintiff's claims and granted summary judgment for Prudential on its repayment counterclaim. The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims for fiduciary breach and failure to provide documents as to Turner and his claim for plan benefits and discrimination as to Prudential; reversed and remanded the grant of summary judgment to Prudential on its claim for reimbursement; affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's fiduciary breach and failure to provide document claims against Prudential; affirmed the application of the abuse of discretion standard to plaintiff's claims for plan benefits; instructed the district court to consider anew any discovery requests related to plaintiff's surviving claims; and vacated the award of prejudgment interest to Prudential. View "Manuel v. Turner Industries Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Hennen worked as a sales specialist for NCR, 2010-2012, and was covered by long-term disability insurance under a group policy provided by MetLife. She sought treatment for a back injury. When physical therapy and surgery failed to resolve her injury, Hennen applied for long-term disability benefits. Acting as plan administrator, MetLife agreed that Hennen was disabled and paid benefits for two years. The plan has a two-year limit for neuromusculoskeletal disorders, subject to exceptions, including on for radiculopathy, a “Disease of the peripheral nerve roots supported by objective clinical findings of nerve pathology.” After MetLife terminated Hennen’s benefits, she sued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001 (ERISA), arguing that MetLife’s determination that she did not have radiculopathy was arbitrary and capricious. The district court granted MetLife summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed. MetLife acted arbitrarily when it discounted the opinions of four doctors who diagnosed Hennen with radiculopathy in favor of the opinion of one physician who ultimately disagreed, but only while recommending additional testing that MetLife declined to pursue. View "Hennen v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the trustees of two union-affiliated employee benefit plans on her claims for relief pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision denying plaintiff's claim under section 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA against the Pension Fund for benefits due, and held that the Pension Fund trustees correctly denied plaintiff's request for an augmented survivor benefit following her husband's death. In regard to plaintiff's section 502(a)(3) claim for breach of fiduciary duty, the court rejected the district court's reasoning that a plan administrator cannot be held liable for unintentional misrepresentations made about the plan's operation by its non‐fiduciary, "ministerial" agent. The court nonetheless affirmed the district court's denial of relief under section 502(a)(3) because the Pension Plan's summary plan description (SPD) adequately described the eligibility requirements for the benefits in question and thereby satisfied the trustees' fiduciary duty to provide complete and accurate information to plan participants and beneficiaries. Therefore, the court affirmed as to Case No. 16‐3549‐cv. The court reversed and remanded as to Case No. 16‐977‐cv, holding that there was an open question of material fact concerning whether the Welfare Fund trustees breached their fiduciary duty to provide plan participants with complete and accurate information about their benefits. View "In re: DeRogatis" on Justia Law