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Section 1113(1)'s statute of repose in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 11131(a), is subject to express waiver. In this interlocutory appeal, the Eleventh Circuit was asked to answer a certified question regarding whether defendant was capable of expressly waiving the six-year statute of repose pursuant to section 1113(1). The court answered the certified question in the affirmative. The court reasoned that, because section 1113(1) does not erect a jurisdictional bar, it was presumptively waivable. Moreover, the court explained that there was no good reason to conclude that section 1113(1) cannot be expressly waived simply because it is a statute of repose. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor v. Preston" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, challenging the management of a defined benefit pension plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated sections 404, 405, and 406 of ERISA by breaching their fiduciary obligations and causing the Plan to engage in prohibited transactions with a U.S. Bank subsidiary, FAF Advisors. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case as moot based on the Plan's overfunded status where there was no actual or imminent injury to the Plan itself that caused injury to plaintiffs' interests; dismissal of the Equities Strategy claim on statute-of-limitations and pleading grounds; and dismissal of plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs. View "Thole v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an underlying action to enforce the health benefits provisions of two court-approved settlement agreements. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The court held that a motion for preliminary injunction filed before the act to be enjoined has occurred, and subsequently intended to restore the status quo once it has been disturbed, was not moot. The court also held that the district court had jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claim pursuant to Section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). On the merits, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits; that they were likely to suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction; and that the balance of the equities and the public interest favor an injunction. View "Di Biase v. SPX Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment in favor of MetLife in an action filed by plaintiff to seek life insurance benefits under a benefits plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The panel held that MetLife waived the evidence of insurability requirement because it did not ask plaintiff for a statement of health, even as it accepted her premiums for $250,000 in coverage. In this case, MetLife's purported ignorance of the facts did not negate its obligation to pay the entire $250,000 because, under agency law, the policyholder-employer's knowledge and conduct may be attributed to MetLife. View "Salyers v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Union Pacific employee Dowling became totally disabled by multiple sclerosis in 1997. His disability benefits ended in 2012 when he reached age 65 and began to draw a pension. Instead of calculating Dowling’s pension based on Dowling’s last 10 years of actual work—ending in 1997—the administrator operated as if Dowling had worked and been paid his final base salary— $208,000 per year— for his credited years of service, until his retirement in 2012, even though Dowling had not actually worked during that period. Dowling is covered by a 277-page retirement plan composed of introductory material, 19 articles of content, and various appendices—none of which explicitly address Dowling’s precise situation. The administrator’s interpretation provides Dowling with a lower monthly payment than he expected. Dowling challenged the administrator’s decision as contradicting the plan’s plain language. In Dowling’s suit under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), the district court found the plan ambiguous and the administrator’s interpretation reasonable. The Third Circuit affirmed. The plan’s terminology, silence, and structure render it ambiguous, so the plan accords the plan administrator discretion to interpret ambiguous plan terms. The mere existence of a conflict of interest is alone insufficient to raise skepticism of the plan administrator’s decision. View "Dowling v. Pension Plan for Salaried Employees of Union Pacific Co." on Justia Law

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Union Pacific employee Dowling became totally disabled by multiple sclerosis in 1997. His disability benefits ended in 2012 when he reached age 65 and began to draw a pension. Instead of calculating Dowling’s pension based on Dowling’s last 10 years of actual work—ending in 1997—the administrator operated as if Dowling had worked and been paid his final base salary— $208,000 per year— for his credited years of service, until his retirement in 2012, even though Dowling had not actually worked during that period. Dowling is covered by a 277-page retirement plan composed of introductory material, 19 articles of content, and various appendices—none of which explicitly address Dowling’s precise situation. The administrator’s interpretation provides Dowling with a lower monthly payment than he expected. Dowling challenged the administrator’s decision as contradicting the plan’s plain language. In Dowling’s suit under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), the district court found the plan ambiguous and the administrator’s interpretation reasonable. The Third Circuit affirmed. The plan’s terminology, silence, and structure render it ambiguous, so the plan accords the plan administrator discretion to interpret ambiguous plan terms. The mere existence of a conflict of interest is alone insufficient to raise skepticism of the plan administrator’s decision. View "Dowling v. Pension Plan for Salaried Employees of Union Pacific Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Plaintiff alleged that defendants failed to adequately disclose that the lifetime benefit maximum applied to the plan at issue. The panel held that ERISA, as amended by the Affordable Care Act, does not ban lifetime benefit maximums for certain retiree-only plans; defendants violated ERISA's statutory and regulatory disclosure requirements by providing a faulty summary of material modifications describing changes to the lifetime benefit maximum in September 2010; and genuine disputes of material fact preclude summary judgment on the breach of fiduciary duty claims. View "King v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield" on Justia Law

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HCSC is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that offers Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance through licensed affiliates in five states and contracts with outside affiliates for prescription drug services, claim payments, and other administrative work. HCSC owns or controls its affiliates and places its officers on their boards. HCSC does not disclose the extent of these ties to its insureds. Its policies state that the affiliates pay it rebates, but it does not share those rebates with its customers. Alleging that these arrangements violated Illinois law and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001, Priddy and others filed a putative class. The district court certified four classes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3): employers who purchased HCSC plans for employees in any of the five states served by HCSC; beneficiaries of employer-furnished plans provided by HCSC in any of the five states; individuals who purchased insurance directly from HCSC in any of the five states; and Illinois insureds who were protected by Illinois insurance regulations. The four classes included approximately 10 million people. The Seventh Circuit vacated class certification. It is not clear that HCSC owed many class members any fiduciary duty. Three of the four classes certified include people whom HCSC does not insure and who do not pay it premiums. View "Priddy v. Health Care Service Corp." on Justia Law

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Twin City filed suit seeking to recover unpaid fringe-benefit contributions allegedly due under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The district court granted summary judgment for the Association on the ground that WQS was precluded by a previous lawsuit from disputing liability for the contributions as an alter ego of a signatory of the agreement. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that WQS was liable for the unpaid fringe-benefit contributions where all of the elements required to apply issue preclusion were present. The court held that the Association has a right to collect contributions under the CBA, but that two categories of damages were not authorized by the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1132, 1145, and that the award should be reduced accordingly. The court also upheld the district court's grant of injunctive relief. The court remanded for the district court to exclude contributions due to the Working Fee and Industry Fund from the damages award, and to reduce the award of interest accordingly. View "Twin City Pipe Trades Service Assoc. v. Wenner Quality Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fund filed suit against defendants under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(3), alleging that it had a right to a portion of a negligence settlement attributable to medical expenses. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Fund, considering defendants' admissions that the settlement agreements included the claim for medical expenses. Therefore, the Fund was entitled to whatever was recovered for medical expenses in the settlement action. View "Mackey v. Johnson" on Justia Law