Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Babin, employed by Quality, developed carpal tunnel syndrome and had several surgeries. Three months after he returned to work, his employment ended. Babin participated in Quality’s employee benefit plan, which provided short- and long-term disability benefits, governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Babin submitted a short-term disability benefits application to Standard, Quality’s insurer. In February 2013, Standard denied Babin’s claim because it had not received a necessary form from Quality. Babin alleges that he provided that form to Quality, which failed to complete it. In February 2014, Babin’s counsel asked Quality for disability plan documents. Babin claims that Quality did not send those documents before he filed suit, that he believed that the short-term plan provided six months of benefits, and, had he known that the plan only provides three months of benefits, he would have applied for long-term benefits; Quality’s failure to produce the documents caused him to miss the window for long-term benefits. Babin filed suit 20 months after requesting the documents, alleging failure to produce documents and failure to pay benefits. The parties settled the denial-of-benefits claim. The court held that Louisiana’s one-year prescriptive period for delictual claims applies to 29 U.S.C. 1132(c) claims, so Babin’s claim was time-barred. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Babin’s argument that Louisiana’s 10-year prescriptive period for personal actions should govern his claim for failure to produce documents. View "Babin v. Quality Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims, holding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132, preempted state law claims. The court held that, although the savings clause preserves a role for certain state laws that regulate insurance, state claims that provide a separate vehicle for seeking benefits from an ERISA plan remain preempted as such claims must be brought under ERISA's civil enforcement provision. The court explained that, otherwise, the exclusivity and uniformity of that federal remedy would be undermined. In this case, because plaintiff's claim for benefits must be brought under federal law, the district court correctly dismissed her state law claims seeking the same relief. Furthermore, the availability of that statutory remedy under section 502 of ERISA also defeated plaintiff's claim for equitable relief under federal law. View "Swenson v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned objections to the settlement of class actions that arose in the wake of a financial crisis involving SRHS and its benefits pension fund. The Fifth Circuit held that the terms of the Settlement Agreement as they affect Plan participants should have been more thoroughly examined prior to the district court's approval; the district court improperly limited its consideration to the hospital's ability to pay while ignoring a transparent explanation of the settlement's consequences for the class members; and thus the court vacated and remanded for further consideration of the enumerated issues. View "Jones v. Singing River Health Services Foundation" on Justia Law