Articles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461, alleging that defendants violated ERISA when defendants, realizing that they had paid plaintiffs excess retirement benefits, reduced plaintiffs' monthly benefit payments and recouped overpayments through withholding. The court concluded that Count One of the complaint was time-barred; the court rejected plaintiffs' argument that defendants had no authority to either correct or recoup the benefit overpayments where the 2002 plan booklet contained broad language granting defendants such action; because the PPNPF was a defined-benefit plan, plaintiffs could not recover individualized relief in a section 1132(a)(2) claim; and plaintiffs' claim for equitable estoppel under section 1132(a)(3)(B) failed where this claim mirrored Count One's section 1132(a)(1)(B) claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. View "Pilger, et al. v. Sweeney, et al." on Justia Law

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Parents appealed from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant, arguing that the district court erred in concluding that the antenuptial agreement between their son and his then-wife, Kathy L. Cox, was ineffective to waive Kathy's right to the funds in Michael's 401(k) plan. The son died before his divorce from Kathy was finalized. The parties agreed that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., governed the distribution of the funds in the plan. The court concluded that the son's designation of his Parents as beneficiaries of the plan must yield to Kathy's rights as a surviving spouse, agreeing with the district court that Kathy's consent did not satisfy the acknowledgment requirement of section 1055(c)(2)(A)(iii). View "MidAmerican v. Cox, Sr., et al." on Justia Law

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DM&E and its president and CEO, defendant, entered into an Employment Agreement to encourage his retention following an anticipated change of control. When DM&E terminated defendant without cause and triggered the Employment Agreement's severance provision, defendant filed a demand for arbitration under the Employment Agreement. DM&E then filed this action in federal court to enjoin the arbitration. The court agreed with the district court that the benefits sought in defendant's arbitration demand were not claims for benefits due under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., plan. The court held that it lacked federal subject matter jurisdiction to consider arbitrability, or any other issue arising under the Employment Agreement. View "Dakota, MN & Eastern R.R. v. Schieffer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as trustee of the Plan, brought this action against Principal, alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion in refusing to certify a class. The court held that the Confidential Agreement and consent judgment in this case permitted plaintiff to revive his individual claim in order to petition the district court for additional recovery and therefore, the district court's decision was not final. Further, plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of his individual claims rendered the case moot where plaintiff has relinquished his claims and there was no longer an Article III case or controversy. Accordingly, the court lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the appeal. View "Ruppert v. Principal Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this action under 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B) claiming that Hartford wrongfully terminated her long-term disability benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Hartford where plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies by failing to file a timely administrative appeal. The letter at issue could have reasonably been construed by Hartford as a request for documents rather than a request for an appeal. View "Reindl v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins." on Justia Law

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Hostess provided an "employee welfare benefit plan" under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1002(1). In this appeal, appellant challenged the order of the district court affirming the grant of summary judgment by the bankruptcy court in favor of Hostess on his claim for civil penalties for Hostess's failure to give notice of certain health insurance coverage rights required under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), 29 U.S.C. 1166(a), and the denial of attorney's fees. Although it was undisputed that Hostess failed to provide two notices required by COBRA, the court rejected appellant's arguments and held that the bankruptcy court did not err in granting summary judgment to Hostess on his claim for civil penalties. The court agreed with the bankruptcy court that it could not "fairly call the outcome of the litigation some success on the merits" as required to award attorney's fees and costs to appellant. View "Deckard v. Interstate Bakeries Corp., et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a dispute between Unum and the late Kevin Sullivan over long-term disability benefit payments. Sullivan sued Unum, arguing that the termination of his benefits violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., and Unum counterclaimed for overpayment of benefits. The court concluded that it was not an abuse of discretion for the administrator to determine that the large payments that Sullivan received in 2004 were payments for the sale of a business for the purpose of calculating his benefits. Unum asserted that the payments were salary, not income. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment and award of attorney's fees, remanding for consideration of Unum's counterclaims. View "Sullivan v. Unum Life Ins. Co., et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former software developer for Lockheed Martin Corporation, brought this action for judicial review after Connecticut General terminated his disability benefits in 2007. The court held that the district court properly applied an abuse of discretion standard; on the record, it was not an abuse of discretion to terminate plaintiff's benefits; and the district court did not err in denying plaintiff an opportunity to depose the expert at issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Siegel v. Connecticut General Life Ins., et al" on Justia Law

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The Funds brought this action to recover delinquent payments from Park-Mark under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461. Park-Mark contended that it should not be liable for these delinquent payments because it mistakenly made significant overpayments that required a set-off and a refund. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Funds where the district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that its initial order granting summary judgment disposed of Park-Mark's claim for restitution and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the Funds where equity did not favor a refund on the facts. View "Greater St. Louis Construction, et al v. Park-Mark, Inc." on Justia Law

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Decedent, father of plaintiffs, died without naming a beneficiary of his Unum life insurance. Plaintiffs sued Unum, asserting a breach of the policy and an Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1002 et seq., violation. The district court concluded that they lacked standing and dismissed the suit. The court concluded that the estate's decision not to appeal precluded the children from having a reasonable or colorable claim to benefits. Because plaintiffs could not become entitled to benefits, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the case. View "A.J., et al v. UNUM, et al" on Justia Law