In recent months, Wisconsin federal courts have witnessed a dramatic increase in class litigation raising breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These claims target sponsoring employers and individuals who oversee plan investments and plan fees for employer-sponsored 401(k) plans.
The Supreme Court of the United States has held many times that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit unless the plaintiff has standing to sue under the federal Constitution. To have standing, the Court has said that the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered or imminently will suffer a concrete and particularized injury to his or her legal rights; that the injury is fairly traceable to the conduct of the defendant; and that the injury can be redressed by a judgment of the court.
Late last year, we wrote about Shore v. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, et al., in which former Atrium Health employees filed a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
In Dorman v. Charles Schwab Corp., No. 18-15281 (August 20, 2019), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a 401(k) plan participant was required to individually arbitrate his claims regarding the plan’s fees and investment options, pursuant to the plan’s arbitration provision.
In late 2018, in Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff’s access to documents disclosing an alleged breach of fiduciary duty did not trigger the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) statute of limitations. According to the court, actual knowledge is required to start the limitations period. The plaintiff testified that he was not aware of the investments at issue or the documents disclosing the investments, therefore, he did not have sufficient knowledge of the alleged breach.
In Josef K. v. California Physicians’ Service, No. 18-cv-06385-YGR (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, June 3, 2019), Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded that an independent medical review (IMR) organization can be subject to a claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as amended, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(3), for breach of fiduciary duties based on the review of a medical necessity appeal under an ERISA-governed employee welfare benefit plan.
In Gaylor v. Mnuchin, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a tax code exemption for religious housing of ministers does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The decision has a direct impact on religious employers and their ministerial employees as well as a potential impact on secular employers that provide housing allowances for their employees.
Employers may soon find themselves reviewing and revising health plan master documents and summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and administrative service agreements with respect to an obscure claims administration practice known as “cross-plan offsetting”—following a recent federal appeals court ruling.
In Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that having access to documents disclosing an alleged breach of fiduciary duty is not sufficient to trigger the three-year statute of limitations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) if the plaintiff does not have actual knowledge of the alleged breach.
Having settled many of its attacks on pension plans sponsored by several large church-affiliated healthcare organizations, the plaintiff’s bar appears to be shifting focus to pension and welfare benefit plans maintained by a healthcare entity that is at least nominally an instrumentality of a state.
On July 24, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Munro v. University of Southern California, No. 17-55550, that an employer/fiduciary of a 401(k) plan cannot force a fiduciary breach claim under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) section 502(a)(2) into arbitration.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that the revised Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) disability benefit claim regulations will apply to claims filed on and after April 1, 2018.
Just over a year ago, a panel decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Rochow v. Life Insurance Company of North America, 737 F.3d 415 made big news when the court upheld the district court’s award of $3.8 million in equitable relief on a theory of unjust enrichment and held that an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan participant can seek disgorgement of profits from an insurer in addition to a claim for denied benefits. The Sixth Circuit later granted the petition for hearing en banc and recently vacated the earlier panel opinion.
Approximately six months ago, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., 134 S. Ct. 604 (2013), addressed whether an employee benefit plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) may include a particular limitations period that starts to run…..
On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a fiduciary of an “employee stock ownership plan” (ESOP) is subject to the same duty of prudence that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires of fiduciaries in general. Justice Breyer, delivering the opinion of a…..
The federal district court decision in Rochow v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 04-73628 (March 23, 2012) went unnoticed by most ERISA practitioners after it was issued in 2012, even though the court awarded millions of dollars in disgorged profits to a benefit claimant as appropriate equitable relief…..
On April 16, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen (No. 11–1285), deciding the issue of whether equitable defenses, such as the principle of unjust enrichment, can override the reimbursement provision of a health benefits plan established under the Employee Retirement Income Security…..
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provides that under federal law marriage is between one man and one woman, is no stranger to employers. DOMA is the reason that employer health benefits provided to same-sex spouses are taxable, and is the reason that tax-qualified plans are not required to provide survivor benefits to same-sex spouses. DOMA also is shaping up to be no stranger to the news in 2012. This year, two federal courts – including one at the First Circuit Court of Appeals level – have ruled the provision of DOMA that limits marriage to an opposite-sex union unconstitutional.