Justia ERISA Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
3M v. National Union Fire Insurance
3M filed an insurance claim to recover losses incurred on a number of investments due to fraud perpetrated by its own investment advisors. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Insurers, holding that the ownership requirement of Endorsement 8 applies to the Employee Dishonesty provision. Therefore, 3M does not own the stolen earnings and cannot seek coverage for the earnings under the Policy. Until the earnings were distributed to the partners, the stolen earnings were property of WG Trading, not 3M. The court explained that it is fundamental that property acquired with partnership funds is partnership property, and individual partners do not own partnership assets until the winding up of the partnership. Finally, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., does not alter general commercial property rights, but merely defines the nature and scope of the fiduciary duties owed to plan participants. View "3M v. National Union Fire Insurance" on Justia Law
Jones v. Aetna Life Insurance Co.
Plaintiff filed suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., for denial of benefits and breach of fiduciary duty. The district court dismissed the fiduciary claim as duplicative of the denial-of-benefits claim, and granted summary judgment against plaintiff on the denial-of-benefits claim. The Eighth Circuit explained that this court's cases conflict about whether a participant or beneficiary bringing a section 1132(a)(1)(B) claim "to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan" may also bring a section 1132(a)(3) claim to obtain benefits. The Eighth Circuit held that Silva v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. was controlling in this case, where an (a)(1)(B) claimant may seek relief under (a)(3); because the two claims in this case assert different theories of liability, the court reversed as to the (a)(3) claim; Aetna's no-disability determination as to the (a)(1)(B) claim was reasonable and the court rejected plaintiff's arguments to the contrary; the district court correctly struck the Supplemental Administrative Record materials that were not before the plan administrator when it made its discretionary determination; and the court declined to consider plaintiff's remaining arguments. Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Aetna Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Spizman v. BCBSM, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Blue Cross in a suit filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., after Blue Cross denied round-the-clock in-home health coverage. The district court properly dismissed Count I and II, because these claims for round-the-clock in-home nursing services were contrary to the plain meaning of the private-duty nursing exclusions in the 2012 and 2013 policies. The district court properly dismissed Count VI because the policy plainly excluded extended hours skilled nursing care, and plaintiffs may not use an estoppel theory to enlarge benefits under a written plan. View "Spizman v. BCBSM, Inc." on Justia Law
Tussey v. ABB, Inc.
Plaintiffs, a class of employees who participated in ABB's retirement plans, filed suit alleging that ABB and its fiduciaries managed the plans for their own benefit, rather than for the participants. In an earlier appeal, the court directed the district court to "reevaluate" how the participants might have been injured if the ABB fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., when they changed the investment options for the plans. The district court misunderstood the court's direction for a definitive ruling on how to measure plan losses and thus entered judgment for the ABB fiduciaries even though the district court found that they breached their duties. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment on that claim and remanded for further consideration regarding whether the participants can prove losses to the plans. The court also vacated and remanded the district court's award of attorney fees because the court reopened one of the participant's substantive claims. View "Tussey v. ABB, Inc." on Justia Law
Knowlton v. Anheuser-Busch
Plaintiff and eight others filed a class action against Anheuser-Busch under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs are participants in the Anheuser-Busch salaried employee pension plan and claim that they are entitled to enhanced pension benefits. At issue is the interpretation of Section 19.11(f) of the plan. Determining that it has jurisdiction over the appeal, the court concluded that Section 19.11(f) is unambiguous and agreed with the district court's adoption of the reasoning in the Sixth Circuit's case, Adams v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., that Section 19.11(f) entitled plaintiffs to enhanced benefits. Although the court affirmed on the merits, the court agreed with plaintiffs that the decision still must be reversed and remanded because the district court failed to make individual calculations of enhanced benefits owed to individual members of the class. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to reconsider plaintiffs' prayer for relief and, to the extent requested and provable, calculate and award the benefits owed to plaintiffs by applying Section 19.11(f). The court noted that, upon remand, the district court may reconsider whether certain records will assist in its calculation of the requested benefits. View "Knowlton v. Anheuser-Busch" on Justia Law
Pharmaceutical Care Management v. Gerhart
PCMA filed suit seeking a declaration that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., expressly preempts section 510B.8 of the Iowa Code. Iowa Code 510B.8 regulates how pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) establish generic drug pricing, and requires that certain disclosures on their drug pricing methodology be made to their network pharmacies as well as to Iowa’s insurance commissioner. The court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for entry of judgment for PCMA on the issue of express preemption, concluding that section 1144(a) of ERISA expressly preempts section 510B.8 because section 510B.8 applies to only those PBMs who administer prescription drug benefits for plans subject to ERISA regulation, and specifically exempts certain ERISA plans from its application. View "Pharmaceutical Care Management v. Gerhart" on Justia Law
Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
ERISA Plaintiffs, administrators of Employee Benefit Plans governed by the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., who entered into securities lending agreements with Wells Fargo, seek to reverse the district court's judgment that it was bound by collateral estoppel and thus required to find against ERISA Plaintiffs and in favor of Wells Fargo on their ERISA claims. Other plaintiffs brought state common law claims. ERISA Plaintiffs and common-law plaintiffs were represented by the same law firm. Following the trial, the parties simultaneously submitted Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law with respect to the ERISA claims. In its submission, Wells Fargo asserted that collateral estoppel should apply and that based on the jury verdict, the court was bound to find that there was no breach of fiduciary duty. The district court determined that it was constrained by collateral estoppel to render judgment on ERISA Plaintiffs’ claims consistent with the jury’s determination and issued judgment, dismissing the ERISA Plaintiffs’ ERISA claims with prejudice. ERISA Plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the district court erred in failing to find that Wells Fargo waived any right to assert that the district court was bound by the jury’s findings. The court vacated because the district court failed to consider whether the parties waived the application of collateral estoppel. The court remanded for the district court determine whether waiver occurred. View "Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Ingram v. Terminal Railroad Ass’n
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), alleging that the Plan erroneously determined his pension benefits. The district court granted summary judgment to the Plan. The court concluded that none of the conflicts of interest and procedural irregularities alleged by plaintiff “caused a serious breach of the plan administrator’s fiduciary duty” which warranted departure from the abuse-of-discretion standard of review. In this case, the district court correctly reviewed the decision of the Plan administrator for an abuse of discretion; substantial evidence supports the Plan administrator’s decision to exclude a 2006 sign-on bonus from pension-qualifying earnings and there was no abuse of discretion; and the Plan administrator’s interpretation of offsets for retirement benefits was reasonable because it was not inconsistent with Plan language, was consistent with Plan goals and ERISA, and rationally construed the offset so that the Normal Retirement Benefit under the Plan does not vary because of the form of payment chosen under another plan. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ingram v. Terminal Railroad Ass'n" on Justia Law
Grasso Enter. v. Express Scripts
Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that ESI is systematically denying payment of compound drug claims without adhering to the procedural requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's "Claims Regulation." 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The court concluded that there is no need for injunctive relief under section 502(a)(3), or for equitable relief to enforce or clarify the beneficiary’s rights under the plan under section 502(a)(1)(B). In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the preliminary injunction requested by plaintiffs as assignees of plan beneficiaries because plaintiffs have cited no reported decision, and the court has found none, where a circuit court has upheld a private plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief mandating the future procedures an ERISA plan must follow to comply with the Claims Regulation. In the alternative, the court concluded that plaintiffs do not have standing under ERISA to assert harm to themselves because they are not ERISA beneficiaries. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Grasso Enter. v. Express Scripts" on Justia Law
McCaffree Fin. Corp. v. Principal Life Ins. Co.
McCaffree brought a class action suit on behalf of participating employees against Principal, the company with whom McCaffree had contracted to provide a retirement plan’s investment options, alleging that Principal had charged McCaffree’s employees excessive fees in breach of a fiduciary duty Principal owed to plan participants under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The court affirmed the district court's grant of Principal's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim because McCaffree failed to demonstrate a valid claim under ERISA. In this case, McCaffree's first argument fails because Principal owed no duty to plan participants during its arms-length negotiations with McCaffree, and the remaining four arguments fail because McCaffree did not plead a connection between any fiduciary duty Principal may have owed and the excessive fees Principal allegedly charged. View "McCaffree Fin. Corp. v. Principal Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law