Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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Steven Williams alleged that his former employer, FedEx Corporate Services, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against him based on his actual and perceived disabilities, and by requiring his enrollment in the company’s substance abuse and drug testing program. Williams further alleges that Aetna Life Insurance Company, the administrator of FedEx’s short-term disability plan, breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act (ERISA) when it reported to FedEx that Williams filed a disability claim for substance abuse. Both FedEx and Aetna filed motions for summary judgment, which the district court granted. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed in part, and reversed and remanded. An employer is liable for an improper medical examination or inquiry, “unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.” FedEx argued that it satisfied the business necessity exception because its employee testing program “ensure[] that employees who seek assistance for drug abuse or dependencies are no longer abusing the drug if they return to FedEx.” The Tenth Circuit found that the district court did not address this argument. As a result, the Court did not have an adequate record from which it could decide this issue on appeal. The Court reversed for the district court to decide that issue, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Williams v. FedEx Corporate" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit's review involved claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Trent Lebahn and his wife claimed that a pension-plan consultant breached a fiduciary duty by misstating the amount of the monthly pension payments that Mr. Lebahn would receive if he were to retire. The Tenth Circuit found that under ERISA, the plan consultant could be considered a fiduciary only if she exercised discretionary authority over the plan’s administration. The Tenth Circuit addressed whether a consultant exercises discretionary authority in administering the plan simply by making a calculation of benefits at the request of a plan participant Finding that a consultant does not exercise discretionary authority under these circumstances, the Tenth Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of the pension plan and its consultant. View "Lebahn v. National Farmers Union" on Justia Law

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Trent Lebahn sued Eloise Owens, a consultant for Lebahn’s employee pension plan, for negligently misrepresenting the amount of his monthly retirement benefits. The district court dismissed Lebahn’s negligent-misrepresentation claim, concluding it was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Lebahn then filed an untimely Rule 59 motion, arguing preemption did not apply because Owens was not a fiduciary of the pension plan. The district court construed the untimely motion as one under Rule 60(b) and denied relief, reasoning that Lebahn’s argument regarding Owens’s fiduciary status had been raised too late. Lebahn appealed. The Tenth Circuit concluded it lacked jurisdiction to consider Lebahn’s challenge to the district court’s underlying judgment, so its review was limited to the district court’s denial of relief under Rule 60(b). Upon review, the Court found Lebahn did not demonstrate the district court abused its discretion in denying relief under Rule 60(b), and therefore the district court’s judgment was affirmed. View "Lebahn v. Owens" on Justia Law