Articles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Village Fuel appealed the district court's denial of attorney's fees in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., action. The court concluded that Village Fuel obtained some degree of success on the merits in defeating GHI's restitution claims and that, under ERISA, a favorable court judgment was not required to satisfy the threshold of awarding attorney's fees. The court vacated and remanded to the district court for further proceedings to determine a reasonable amount of attorney's fees, if any, to be awarded to Village Fuel. View "Scarangella & Sons v. Group Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, former Lehman employees, filed suit alleging that defendants, members of the Benefits Committee, and the company's Directors, breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. In regards to plaintiffs' claims that the Benefits Committee Defendants breached their duty of prudence in managing the company's employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), the court concluded that plaintiffs have not rebutted the Moench v. Robertson presumption because they failed to allege facts sufficient to show that the Benefits Committee Defendants knew or should have known that Lehman was in a "dire situation" based on information that was publicly available during the class period. In regards to plaintiffs' claims that the Benefits Committee Defendants breached their duty of disclosure, the publicly-known information available to defendants did not give rise to an independent duty to investigate Lehman's SEC filings prior to incorporating their content into a summary plan description issued to plan-participants. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "In Re: Lehman Bros. ERISA Litig." on Justia Law

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Saint Vincent's alleged that Morgan Stanley - the fiduciary manager of the fixed-income portfolio of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers Retirement Plan - violated its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Saint Vincent's alleged that Morgan Stanley disproportionately invested the portfolio's assets in mortgaged-backed securities, including the purportedly riskier subcategory of "nonagency" mortgage-backed securities, despite warning signs that these investments were unsound. Although Saint Vincent's, as the fiduciary administrator of an ERISA-governed plan, was in a position to plead its claims with greater factual detail than was typically accessible to plaintiffs prior to discovery, and although it received two opportunities to amend its complaint, the Amended Complaint failed to plead sufficient, nonconclusory factual allegations to show that Morgan Stanley failed to meet its fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Amended Complaint. View "Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. Morgan Stanley Inv. Mgmt. Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from the district court's grant of Aetna's motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether the insurer improperly denied plaintiff long-term disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Because Aetna's reservation of discretion was sufficient to compel use of the arbitrary and capricious standard of review, the court affirmed summary judgment to Aetna on its denial of benefits. The court also held that Aetna's action seeking return of overpaid benefits was properly brought under 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(3) as an equitable counterclaim. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment on the counterclaim. View "Thurber v. Aetna Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued the administrators of CAAIG contending that they breached their fiduciary duties to CAAIG under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., by failing to ensure that CAAIG had sufficient assets with which to satisfy the judgment. The district court agreed and entered judgment against the Plan Administrators. The court concluded that LIHS had standing under ERISA 502(a) as a fiduciary of the Plan; the Underfunding Claim and EOC Suffolk Delinquency Claim were timely; the Administrators conceded that the breach of a contractual obligation in the Plan documents constituted a breach of their fiduciary duties under section 404(a)(1) of ERISA; and the Administrators breached their fiduciary duties with respect to the Underfunding Claim and the EOC Suffolk Delinquency Claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "L.I. Head Start Child Dev. Servs., Inc. v. Economic Opportunity Comm'n of Nassau Cnty., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a putative class action on behalf of current and former UBS and UBSFS employees, alleging that defendants violated various fiduciary duties imposed on them by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs argued that the district court erred in analyzing their claim for breach of the duty of prudence, as it applied a presumption of prudence to the fiduciaries of both investment plans at issue. The court held that the district court wrongly applied the presumption as to one of the two plans, the Savings and Investment Plan (SIP), as the SIP Plan Document neither required nor strongly encouraged investment in UBS stock or the UBS Stock Fund. The court held, however, that the District Court correctly applied the presumption of prudence as to the second plan, the Plus Plan, which required plan fiduciaries to invest in the UBS Stock Fund. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal order of the district court in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Plaintiffs' remaining arguments were addressed in a companion Summary Order. View "Taveras v. UBS AG et al." on Justia Law

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Kathy Joy Kirkendall and her co-plaintiffs filed this putative class action suit, pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1002-1461, which included claims for redetermination of benefits and for improper amendment of plan terms. Plaintiffs filed suit without first availing themselves of the procedure described for "benefits claims" in pension plan documents and the district court dismissed based on Kirkendall's failure to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court held that because Kirkendall reasonably interpreted the plan's exhaustion requirement not to apply to a determination of future benefits and did not exhaust her administrative remedies as a result, she was not required to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court also held that Halliburton's actions did not constitute an amendment within the meaning of ERISA section 204(g). View "Kirkendall et al v. Halliburton, Inc. et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Metro to recover contributions owed pursuant to the Employer Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1145. Metro challenged the damages award, arguing that the method set forth in the collective bargaining agreement resulted in an impermissibly speculative damages award. The court disagreed and held that the parties were free to agree to an alternative method of calculating damages without offending the requirement that damages be proven with "reasonable certainty." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Cement and Concrete Workers District Council Welfare Fund v. Metro Foundation Contractors" on Justia Law

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This appeal and purported class-appeal primarily concerned two issues arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 28 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The first issue was whether trustees of a multi-employer pension fund acted as fiduciaries when they amended the pension plan. The second issue was whether the claims asserted in this case were time-barred. The court concluded that the dismissal of Counts I-V was proper because the trustees were not acting as fiduciaries in amending the Plan, and in reaching that conclusion, the court deemed the contrary rulings of the court in Chambless v. Masters, Mates & Pilots Pension Plan and Siskind v. Sperry Retirement Program, to have been abrogated by subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court. The court also concluded that fact issues remained as to whether Counts VII-IX were properly dismissed as time-barred. View "Janese v. Fay" on Justia Law

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The Fund is a multiemployer defined-benefit pension plan. Honerkamp, a New York employer, contributed to the Fund pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with its employees. In 2008, the trustees announced that the Fund was in critical status as defined by the Pension Protection Act of 1996, 29 U.S.C. 1085(b)(2) and began drafting a rehabilitation plan. Because the rehabilitation plan would figure prominently in negotiations between Honerkamp and the union, the parties extended existing agreements. The final rehabilitation plan set forth new schedules of reduced benefits and increased contributions. According to the plan, the Fund was unlikely to emerge from critical status within the statutory 10-year rehabilitation period because employer contribution rates required for that result would exceed amounts that employers would have had to pay to withdraw from the Fund. The trustees therefore designed schedules β€œto impose approximately the same burden actuarially on employers that a withdrawal from the [Fund] would produce.” Following negotiations, Honerkamp withdrew from the Fund. The trustees sued, arguing that the PPA prevented Honerkamp from withdrawing and required the company to make certain ongoing pension contributions pursuant to the rehabilitation plan. The district court granted summary judgment to Honerkamp. The Second Circuit affirmed. View "Trs. of Local 138 Pension Trust Fund v. F.W. Honerkamp Co. Inc." on Justia Law