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Plaintiff filed a putative class action alleging that the Trustees breached the Pension Plan's terms, violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's (ERISA) sections 204 and 305, and breached their fiduciary duties by withholding $1.00 per hour from his employer contributions without providing an accrued benefit. The Ninth Circuit held that only amendment 14 was fully litigated; the district court correctly interpreted the interaction between Amendment 15, Article 5 of the Pension Plan, and the Reciprocal Agreement; ERISA section 305(e) does not apply before critical status certification; and because the panel held that the parties did not fully litigate withholdings under Amendment 24, it need not address whether the district court erred by failing to make specific findings about the alternative schedules in the Rehabilitation Plan. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings on the withholdings under Amendment 24. The panel vacated the award of attorneys' fees. View "Lehman v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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St. Peter’s, a non-profit healthcare entity, runs a hospital. It is not a church, but has ties to a New Jersey Roman Catholic Diocese. The Bishop appoints most members of its Board of Governors and retains veto authority over Board actions. The hospital has daily Mass and Catholic devotional pictures and statues throughout the building. In 1974, St. Peter’s established a non-contributory defined benefit retirement plan; operated the plan subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); and represented that it was complying with ERISA. In 2006 St. Peter’s filed an IRS application, seeking a church plan exemption from ERISA, 26 U.S.C. 414(e); 29 U.S.C. 1002(33). In 2013, Kaplan, who worked for St. Peter’s until 1999, filed a putative class action alleging that St. Peter’s did not provide ERISA-compliant summary plan descriptions or pension benefits statements, and that, as of 2011, the plan was underfunded by more than $70 million. While the lawsuit was pending, St. Peter’s received an IRS private letter ruling. affirming the plan’s status as an exempt church plan for tax purposes. The Third Circuit initially affirmed denial of a motion to dismiss, concluding that St. Peter’s could not establish an exempt church plan because it is not a church. Following consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, the Third Circuit vacated and reversed. View "Kaplan v. Saint Peter's Healthcare System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, retired officers of Booz Allen, filed suit alleging that they were improperly denied compensation when, after their retirement, Booz Allen sold one of its divisions in the Carlyle Transaction. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., claims on the ground that Booz Allen's stock-distribution program was not a pension plan within the meaning of ERISA, and denial as futile leave to amend to "augment" the ERISA claims with new allegations; affirmed the dismissal of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., claims on the ground that they were barred by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c); but vacated the district court's judgment to the extent it denied Plaintiff Kocourek leave to amend to add securities-fraud causes of action. The court remanded for the district court to consider his claims. View "Pasternack v. Shrader" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a member of the Employees' Retirement System of the State of Hawai'i (ERS), challenged the denial of "service-connected disability retirement" benefits after she was shot while serving as a public summer school teacher. The Supreme Court of Hawai'i held that plaintiff was eligible for service-connected disability retirement under applicable law. HRS 88-79 provides that an ERS member may be retired by the ERS for service-connected disability retirement if she was permanently incapacitated for duty as the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place. In this case, although plaintiff's summer school employment at the school was not "membership service," it was nonetheless "service," and HRS 88-779 provided for "service-connected disability retirement," not "membership service-connected disability retirement." View "Stout v. Board of Trustees of the Employees' Retirement System" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's award of equitable relief in this Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., action. The court rejected defendants' challenges to the district court's award of equitable relief under section 502(a)(3). The court held that the district court did not err in rejecting defendants' challenge to the timeliness of participants' claims; ordering class-wide relief on participants' section 404(a) claims without requiring individualized proof of detrimental reliance; and concluding that mistake, a prerequisite to the equitable remedy of reformation, had been shown by clear and convincing evidence as to all class members. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding equitable relief. View "Osberg v. Foot Locker, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed MetLife's denial of long term disability (LTD) benefits to plaintiff under a group insurance plan sponsored by her former employer pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The court held that plaintiff presented no evidence of factors tending to demonstrate a consequential conflict of interest, or other indicia of biased decision making; the district court did not err by using an abuse of discretion standard of review; and MetLife did not abuse its discretion by denying LTD benefits to plaintiff where it properly considered all medical records, APS reports, comments, and other information submitted by plaintiff and her physicians. View "Cooper v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Reliance challenged the district court's award of disability benefits to plaintiff under a plan pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., and the amount of benefits owed. The DC Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff proved partial disability. In this case, the conflict of interest factor in the standard of review, as well as plaintiff's medical record, lack of full time work, and release to return to work only "as tolerated" convinced the court that she established partial disability. The court explained that, according to the express terms of the Plan, partial disability was equivalent to total disability within the relevant period. View "Marcin v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), after the plan administrator determined that plaintiff's disability-onset date rendered him ineligible for benefits. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiff was entitled to benefits and order requiring the Plan to provide the benefits. The court explained that the Board failed to follow a reasoned process or explain the basis of its determination -- neither addressing nor even acknowledging new and uncontradicted evidence supporting plaintiff's application, including that of the Plan's own expert. View "Solomon v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellee Elizabeth Cates filed on her behalf and a putative class asserting claims against the defendant-appellee INTEGRIS Health, Inc. for breach of contract, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, deceit, specific performance, and punitive damages. INTEGRIS successfully moved to dismiss the claims based on the ground that they are all preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Cates appealed. Because the trial court in this matter did not take into consideration the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Salzer v. SSM Health Care of Oklahoma Inc., 762 F.3d 1130 (10th Cir. 2014), which was factually similar to the facts of this case and found that the plaintiff’s claims were not preempted, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court in this matter for reconsideration in light of Salzer. View "Cates v. Integris Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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Corey worked as a machine operator in Eaton’s Ohio factory. Corey has long suffered from cluster headaches— extremely painful attacks that strike several times per day for weeks on end. In 2014, Corey applied for short-term disability benefits under Eaton’s disability plan after a bout of headaches forced him to miss work. After granting a period of disability, the third party administering Eaton’s disability plan discontinued benefits because Corey failed to provide objective findings of disability. Under the plan, “[o]bjective findings include . . . [m]edications and/or treatment plan.” Corey’s physicians treated his headaches by prescribing prednisone, injecting Imitrex (a headache medication), administering oxygen therapy, and performing an occipital nerve block. The district court upheld the denial. The Sixth Circuit reversed, citing the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B). Corey’s medication and treatment plan satisfy the plan’s objective findings requirement. View "Corey v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc." on Justia Law