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The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - December 2014

This month's newsletter focuses on how Plan Trustees can appropriately settle ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims in order to achieve "complete peace." The article provides a check list and discusses strategies for handling...more

In Post-Dudenhoeffer Decision, Class Action Plaintiffs Are Allowed to Pursue Their Claims For Fiduciary Breach Against Eastman...

A federal district court has permitted plaintiffs to pursue class actions against the fiduciaries of two Eastman Kodak defined contribution plans on the ground that those fiduciaries failed to prudently manage the plan funds....more

ERISA Fiduciaries Have a Duty to Inform

SUMMARY: In this case, the court found that the employer, serving as plan administrator of a group life insurance plan providing basic and supplemental coverage, may be liable for monetary damages for breach of its fiduciary...more

Sixth Circuit Upholds Venue Selection Clause in Pension Plan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a pension plan’s venue selection clause and affirmed dismissal of the participant’s claims for benefits on the ground that such claims were not filed in the authorized...more

Ninth Circuit Applies Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer to Reverse Dismissal of Stock Drop Case

Speed Read - The Ninth Circuit becomes the first appellate court to interpret the Supreme Court’s Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer holding. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit held that participants can maintain a claim...more

Filing a Knee-Jerk Counterclaim Can Make a Bad Problem Worse

In today’s litigious world, it is all too common for a disgruntled former business partner to file a lawsuit based on legally weak, if not outright frivolous, claims of wrongdoing. One common reaction is to fight fire with...more

How to Settle an ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case and Sleep at Night: A Checklist for Plan Trustees to Consider

Plan trustees often look to settle ERISA fiduciary breach claims brought against them as a way to put the past behind them. Assuming there is enough fiduciary liability insurance coverage available to pay the proposed...more

Insurer Agrees to $140 Million Settlement in ERISA Case Challenging Revenue Sharing Practices

Nationwide Life Insurance Co. has agreed to settle ERISA fiduciary breach claims brought on behalf of a class of retirement plan trustees that purchased annuity contracts and/or services from Nationwide for their plans....more

Ninth Circuit Breathes Life Into Participant’s Claim for Surcharge

A panel of the Ninth Circuit withdrew its earlier opinion and has now joined other circuits in finding that the equitable remedy of surcharge is available for participants seeking recovery of personal losses as opposed to...more

Court Rejects Fiduciary Duty Breach by Claims Administrator Acting on Behalf of Plan Sponsor

In the recently decided matter of Van Loo, et al. v. Cajun Operating Company, et al., No. 2:2014cv10604 (E.D. Mich. 2014), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan rejected allegations of a fiduciary duty...more

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide ERISA Statute of Limitations Case

ERISA Section 413 generally sets forth a six year statute of limitations for bringing claims for fiduciary breach. On October 2, 2014, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Tibble v. Edison International to decide whether a...more

District Courts Continue to Reject the Ninth Circuit’s Limitation on Surcharge

We previously reported that the Ninth Circuit stands alone in expressly limiting the availability of surcharge to cases involving loss to, or unjust enrichment at the expense of, the plan (as opposed to being available to a...more

Defined Benefit Plan Participants Have Standing to Pursue Fiduciary Breach Claims

A federal district court in Minnesota found that participants in a defined benefit pension plan had standing to assert claims that defendants breached their fiduciary duties by, among other things, shifting to an...more

Arizona Trade Secrets Grow New Teeth

Over the last 18 months, the courts had diluted Arizona trade secret protections, notwithstanding the recent criminalization of trade secret theft by the AZ legislature. Today, however, the Arizona Supreme Court breathed new...more

Illinois Supreme Court Agrees to Return to Pension Debates

In the closing days of its September term, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to return once again to what surely must be the most controversial subject at the moment in all of Illinois’ civil law: public pensions. Matthews v....more

Watch For A New Wave Of ERISA Stock Drop Cases

Plan fiduciaries may create a fiduciary duty in stock drop cases by incorporating filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission into the Summary Plan Description. We have been waiting for the Ninth Circuit to...more

Omnicare Court Ponders Two Middle Paths: One Rocky, One Smooth

Monday’s oral argument before the Supreme Court in Laborers District Counsel Construction Industry Pension Fund v. Omnicare, Inc., (“Omnicare”) was remarkable in that, as Omnicare attorney Kannon Shanmugam noted, it was the...more

Believe It or Not? In Omnicare, the Supreme Court Considers the Standard of Liability for Statements of Opinion

Americans take as given the right to hold and express opinions. So it may come as a surprise to many that the federal securities laws impose civil liability for statements of opinion. It may be even more surprising that...more

Where Did My Customer Go? Some Pleading Parameters for Tortious Interference

A Federal court in New York recently provided some pleading parameters for employers for claims of tortious interference with business relations....more

To Catch an E-Thief — Under Federal Property Law

As businesses move away from paper documents, courts are poised to broaden ‘conversion’ definition. The fundamental shift for busi­nesses in the past 15 years from paper documents to computer data has forced the courts...more

FCRA Preempts Tortious Interference Claim, Says NJ Court

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—a federal law that regulates the collection and use of “consumer information”—covers employers who solicit third-party vendors known as consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to run background...more

Life Insurer Prevails in First Circuit Appeal in ERISA Class Action Challenging Retained Asset Accounts

In a unanimous panel decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed a trial court’s ruling that the defendant, Unum Life Insurance Company of America (Unum), had breached fiduciary duties under the...more

Absent an Initial Showing That It Is a Fiduciary, Employer Is Immune from Breach of Fiduciary Liability Claim under ERISA in the...

In Moon v. BWX Technologies, Inc., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 12525 (4th Cir. July 2, 2014), the Fourth Circuit rejected fiduciary breach and equitable estoppel claims, determining that an employer’s failure to alert an employee...more

Reasonable Fee Issues for Fiduciaries on the Horizon

The Supreme Court is poised to address whether fiduciaries' decisions—especially in using fee sharing arrangements—are subject to deference when challenged. The Eighth and Ninth Circuit courts recently decided these issues,...more

Supreme Court to Review Application of ERISA’s Six-Year Statute of Limitations in Tibble v. Edison Int’l.

On October 2, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari in Tibble v. Edison International to answer “Whether a claim that [Employee Retirement Income Security Act]...more

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