Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...
This week in Know Your Judge, we feature Walter H. Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Rice was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. He served as chief judge from 1996 to 2003, and he assumed senior status a year later.
One of Rice’s recent rulings on employee benefits cases is an order prohibiting Honeywell International Inc. from cutting health-care benefits to retirees of a Greenville, Ohio, plant. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed this ruling and provided employers with better guidance on what language a collective bargaining agreement must include to vest retiree health-care benefits.
Last year, Rice partially dismissed a lawsuit alleging trucking company Navistar International Corp. misappropriated $26 million of Medicare Part D subsidies that were earmarked for retirees’ prescription drugs. In 2014, while sitting by designation in the Sixth Circuit, Rice held that a former coal miner’s subsequent service as a federal mine inspector didn’t qualify him as a coal miner eligible for federal black lung benefits.
Employers should know that Rice denies more than half of the motions to dismiss filed in the employment, labor, and benefits cases he presides over, according to data in Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics.
Rice’s rulings are overwhelmingly affirmed by the Sixth Circuit—the appeals court that reviews decisions from federal district courts in Ohio. His rulings in employment, labor, and benefits matters have been affirmed more than 80 percent of the time.
On average, Rice takes less than a year to resolve lawsuits involving employee benefits and wage-and-hour matters. He usually takes longer to resolve employment discrimination and labor disputes. On average, it takes Rice:
Looking for more analytics on judges? Check back each Wednesday for our Know Your Judge feature or try Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics. And contact us if there’s a judge you want us to highlight.
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