Articles Posted in ERISA

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Former employees of World Airways challenged the dismissal of their complaint seeking damages for fraud, breach of contract and violation of an employee benefit plan. The Second Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiffs' state law claims arose under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq., and were thus preempted. Because those claims bear a close resemblance to claims brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., the court found it appropriate to borrow and apply the three‐year statute of limitations set forth in Section 1113 of ERISA rather than the six‐month limitations period the district court borrowed from Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C.160(b). Accordingly, the court vacated the dismissal of the RLA claims and remanded for further consideration. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Pruter v. Local 210’s Pension Trust Fund" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Aetna and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, seeking reimbursement from Aetna for performing two knee surgeries on a patient who was a member of an Aetna-administered health care plan that was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The Second Circuit held that ERISA does not completely preempt an "out-of-network" health care provider's promissory-estoppel claim against a health insurer where the provider did not receive a valid assignment for payment under a health insurance plan and received an independent promise from the insurer that he would be paid for certain medical services provided to the insured. Accordingly, the court vacated the denial of plaintiff's motion to remand and the dismissal of his complaint. The Second Circuit remanded to the district court with instructions to remand to state court. View "McCulloch Orthopaedic Surgical Services v. Aetna" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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Plaintiffs, trustees of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., pension fund, filed suit against its investment manager and principals alleging that defendants knew by 1998 that investing with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) was imprudent; that these defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to warn the fund of this fact; that if warned, the fund would have withdrawn the full sum appearing on its 1998 BLMIS account statements; and that prudent alternative investment of that sum would have earned more than the fund’s actual net withdrawals from its BLMIS account between 1999 and 2008. Plaintiffs also filed suit against Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which acquired the investment manager in 2000, alleging that it knowingly participated as a non‐fiduciary in the fiduciary breach. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) and for failure to allege an actual injury sufficient to establish Article III standing under Rule 12(b)(1). The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to allege facts sufficient to show Article III standing where plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged losses in excess of their profits; the increase in pension funds does not constitute a cognizable loss; the court rejected plaintiffs' claim of disgorgement of Simon and Wohl; and the complaint fails to state a claim against BNY Mellon for participation in a breach of fiduciary duty by Ivy, Simon, and Wohl. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Trustees of the Upstate New York Engineers Pension Fund v. Ivy Asset Management" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA, Securities Law

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This case concerns employee benefits plans sponsored by AIG or its affiliates under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. At issue is whether the Plans are "affiliates" of AIG for the purposes of a class action settlement agreement. The district court held that appellants are "affiliates" of AIG and thus ineligible for their own portion of a class settlement agreement with AIG. The court held that appellants have standing to appeal the district court's denial of the motion to direct and dismissed appellants' appeal as to the denial of their motion to intervene as moot. On the merits, the court held that because ERISA imposes important statutory limits on an employer’s control over the management and policies of an employee benefit plan, those plans do not fall within the ordinary meaning of "affiliate." Therefore, the court concluded that appellants are entitled to their own portion of the settlement and appellees will have a somewhat smaller portion. The court vacated the denial of the Plans' motion to direct. View "In re AIG Securities Litig." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA, Securities Law

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Plaintiffs, two individual psychiatrists and three professional associations of psychiatrists, filed suit against defendants, four health‐insurance companies, alleging that the health insurers’ reimbursement practices discriminate against patients with mental health and substance use disorders in violation of the Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), 29 U.S.C. 1185(a), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461. The court concluded that, because the psychiatrists are not among those expressly authorized to sue, they lack a cause of action under ERISA. The court also concluded that the association plaintiffs lack constitutional standing to pursue their respective ERISA and MHPAEA claims because their members lack standing. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Am. Psychiatric Ass’n v. Anthem Health Plans, Inc." on Justia Law

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Congress empowered the Department of Labor to issue rules and regulations governing claims procedures for employee benefit plans under Sections 503 and 505 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1133, 1135. The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut held that, when exercising discretionary authority to deny a claim for benefits, a plan’s failure to establish or follow reasonable claims procedures in accordance with the regulation entitles the claimant to de novo review of the claim in federal court, unless the plan “substantially complied” with the regulation, in which case an arbitrary and capricious standard applies to the federal court’s review of the claim. The district court further held that a plan’s failure to follow the Department’s regulation results in unspecified civil penalties. The court disagreed, holding that, when denying a claim for benefits, a plan’s failure to comply with the Department of Labor’s claims‐procedure regulation, 29 C.F.R. 2560.503‐1, will result in that claim being reviewed de novo in federal court, unless the plan has otherwise established procedures in full conformity with the regulation and can show that its failure to comply with the regulation in the processing of a particular claim was inadvertent and harmless; civil penalties are not available to a participant or beneficiary for a plan’s failure to comply with the claims‐procedure regulation; and a plan’s failure to comply with the claims‐procedure regulation may, in the district court’s discretion, constitute good cause warranting the introduction of additional evidence outside the administrative record. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Halo v. Yale Health Plan" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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Plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of a putative class of former participants in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) invested exclusively in Lehman’s common stock, alleging that the Plan Committee Defendants, who were fiduciaries of the ESOP, breached their duty of prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the Plan Committee Defendants breached ERISA by continuing to permit investment in Lehman stock in the face of circumstances arguably foreshadowing its eventual bankruptcy. Plaintiffs also filed claims against Lehman's former directors, including Richard S. Fuld. The district court dismissed plaintiff's consolidated amended complaint (CAC) and second consolidated amended complaint (SAC) for failure to state a claim. The court affirmed. The Supreme Court subsequently held in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer that ESOP fiduciaries are not entitled to any special presumption of prudence. After remand, the district court dismissed plaintiffs' third amended complaint (TAC). The court agreed with the district court that, even without the presumption of prudence rejected in Fifth Third, plaintiffs have failed to plead plausibly that the Plan Committee Defendants breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA by failing to recognize the imminence of Lehman’s collapse. The court concluded as it had before, that plaintiffs have not adequately shown that the Plan Committee Defendants should be held liable for their actions in attempting to meet their fiduciary duties under ERISA while simultaneously offering an undiversified investment option for employees’ retirement savings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Rinehart v. Lehman Brothers Holdings" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA, Securities Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against United, claiming that United had violated its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), (a)(3), and the terms of ERSIA-governed health insurance plans administered by United, and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (the Parity Act), 29 U.S.C. 1185a(a)(3)(A). Plaintiffs also brought three additional counts under New York State law. The district court granted United's motion to dismiss. The court concluded that NYSPA has standing at this stage of the litigation and that Plaintiff Denbo’s claims, but not Plaintiff Dr. Menolascino’s claims, should be permitted to proceed. Therefore, the court affirmed in part and vacated in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "N.Y. State Psychiatric Ass’n v. UnitedHealth Grp." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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Plaintiffs, former employees of PwC, filed suit under the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., alleging that PwC's retirement plan deprived them of so-called "whipsaw payments," which guarantee that plan participants who take distributions in the form of a lump sum when they terminate employment will receive the actuarial equivalent of the value of their accounts at retirement. The PwC plan defines “normal retirement age” as five years of service, so that it coincides with the time at which employees vest in the plan. The court held that the plan’s definition of “normal retirement age” as five years of service violates the statute not because five years of service is not an “age,” but because it bears no plausible relation to “normal retirement,” and is therefore inconsistent with the plain meaning of the statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court, but for different reasons than those cited by the district court. The court did not reach the district court's alternative reasons for denying defendants' motion to dismiss. View "Laurent v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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Plaintiff, a physician, filed suit alleging that his employer Montefiore denied him severance benefits in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded, however, that on the facts alleged in the complaint, the severance policy at issue is a "plan" governed by section 1002(1) of ERISA. The court considered Montefiore's remaining arguments and concluded that they are without merit. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Okun v. Montefiore Medical Center" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA