Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...
The following are summaries of recent Employee Retirement Income Security Act and other decisions, prepared by Bloomberg Law legal editors.
The second wife of a retired Goodyear employee isn’t entitled to any survivor benefits should the retiree die before her because they weren’t married when his pension payments started in 1991, the court said in affirming the decision of the Goodyear Pension Plan. The board reasonably interpreted the plan language to mean that only the spouse who is married to the employee at the time his pension begins will be entitled to the survivor benefit, the court said (Watkins v. Goodyear Pension Plan, 2018 BL 148050, N.D. Ala., No. 4:17-CV-461-VEH, 4/26/18).
Candy manufacturer Just Born II Inc. must pay $255,000 in union pension contributions for new employees even after its collective-bargaining agreement had expired and the company started using 401(k) plans for new employees, a federal court of appeals said in affirming the trial court. At the time the controlling CBA coverage ended, the plan was still a “bargaining party” to a rehabilitation plan that was adopted in 2012 to address the severe underfunding of the plan, and the Peeps maker must make the contributions in accordance with that plan (Bakery & Confectionary Union & Indus. Int’l Pension Fund v. Just Born II, Inc., 2018 BL 147667, 4th Cir., 17-1369, 4/26/18).
A 401(k) plan that invested in a New Mexico real estate company can proceed to trial to determine if an institutional lender and real estate company manager associated with the entities acted as fiduciaries and violated any fiduciary duties under ERISA, the court said. Additionally, the real estate entity isn’t entitled to the ERISA real estate operating company exception because it failed to show the court it was actively involved in a substantial “ongoing commitment” to managing and developing real estate (Hart Interior Design LLC 401k Profit Sharing Plan v. Recorp Invs. Inc., 2018 BL 147891, D. Ariz., CV-16-02347-PHX-GMS, 4/26/18).
The New York firefighters retirement board properly denied the application of a firefighter for performance of duty disability retirement benefits who said his bladder cancer was caused by exposure to hazardous materials and toxic fumes during the course of his employment, the state appellate court said. The firefighter failed to show he was permanently incapacitated and unable to work since he is now in remission while additionally failing to present objective medical evidence indicating his condition was in any way caused by the duties of his employment (Matter of Maldari v. DiNapoli, 2018 BL 147563, N.Y. App. Div., No. 525416, 4/26/18).
A former Kentucky public schools staff member isn’t entitled to disability retirement benefits after she was involved in a car accident that led to neck pain and tremors, because the medical evidence didn’t show a disabling condition that would prevent her from working. The Kentucky Retirement System board properly denied the application based on the evidence, and the state trial court erred when it reinterpreted the evidence instead of evaluating if the decision of the board was reasonable, the appellate court noted (Ky. Ret. Sys. v. Nikolovski, 2018 BL 149247, Ky. Ct. App., 2016-CA-000855-MR, unpublished 4/27/18).
A South Carolina woman can’t continue with her lawsuit against Prudential Insurance of American alleging they failed to issue a decision on her long-term disability application in a timely matter because she failed to exhaust all of the available administrative remedies first, the court said. The woman says she properly followed the administrative protocol of the plan but she failed to plead those facts initially, and so she must re-file the case to properly introduce those allegations because her complaint can’t be amended at this stage under the procedural rules (Deas v. Prudential Ins. of Am., D.S.C., 2:17-cv-03016-DCN, 4/26/18).
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan reasonably denied the long-term disability benefits claim of a former customer service representative suffering from back pain and fibromyalgia, the court said. Although the voluminous record contained a large amount of medical information, there wasn’t enough objective medical evidence to show the man, who worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan itself, was physically disabled or that he couldn’t continue to work a sedentary job (Jackson v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich. Long Term Disability Program, 2018 BL 148030, E.D. Mich., No. 17-12537, 4/26/18).
The court won’t find a New Jersey construction company and its president in civil contempt, even though the entity has failed to pay the arbitration awards for delinquent employee benefit fund contributions that have been confirmed by the court. Although there is a valid court order that the entity has been made aware of, to impose a “drastic penalty” of civil contempt when there are other means of collecting on a money judgment is not available at this point, the court noted (Operating Engineers v. J.T. Cleary, Inc., 2018 BL 147598, D.N.J., No. 17-5962 (ES) (MAH), unpublished 4/26/18).
A California surgical center can’t sue a claims administrator for alleged misrepresentations made about a reimbursement rate, because the underlying policy has a valid anti-assignment clause, a federal court of appeals said. The anti-assignment clause wasn’t cited as a reason for denying the benefits—instead it was only raised by insurer once the lawsuit was filed—and any reliance the surgical center placed on verbal representations about there not being an anti-assignment clause was unreasonable given they didn’t obtain a copy of the plan documents until after they filed suit, the court noted (Eden Surgical Ctr. v. Cognizant Tech. Sols. Corp., 2018 BL 148027, 9th Cir., 16-56422, unpublished 4/26/18).
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)