Justia ERISA Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment in favor of CCCERA following the denial of plaintiff's fourth amended petition for writ of mandate (petition) filed under Code of Civil Procedure section 1085. Plaintiff alleged that CCCERA and its governing Board improperly reduced his retirement benefits retroactively, pursuant to Government Code section 31539.The court concluded that the trial court abused its discretion by deciding to reduce plaintiff's retirement allowance. The court explained that, in light of legislative history and the law in existence at the time of plaintiff's retirement, the Board's determination that plaintiff caused his pension to be improperly increased at the time of retirement, pursuant to subdivision (a)(2) of section 31539, was not in conformity with the spirit of the law and did not subserve substantial justice. In this case, although the court recognized plaintiff's pre-retirement efforts to increase his compensation earnable in the period before his retirement, which allowed him to maximize his pension and epitomized the act of pension spiking which led to the subsequent enactment of the California Public Employees' Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA), the court cannot sanction the Board's legally unsupported use of section 31539 to penalize plaintiff for conduct that—while now prohibited under the PEPRA—was expressly permitted at the time of his retirement. View "Nowicki v. Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Ass'n" on Justia Law

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State law causes of action seeking to recover unpaid benefits under a welfare benefit plan regulated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., are generally conflict preempted. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action filed by Port Medical seeking payments for health care services provided to persons eligible for benefits under the Plan. The court held that Port Medical's claims for breach of implied-in-fact contract, intentional misrepresentation and quantum meruit—each of which sought payment for services covered under the Plan—were conflict preempted under section 514 of ERISA. The court held that Port Medical's two remaining claims for unfair competition and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage were not preempted because they were predicated on the theory that the Plan and Connecticut General conspired to force Port Medical out of business in order to benefit a competitor, rather than strictly on a claim for benefits under the Plan. The court held, nonetheless, that Port Medical failed to demonstrate there was a dispute of material fact with respect to those claims. View "Port Medical Wellness, Inc. v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law