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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

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

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

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

First Circuit Rules for Insurers in Two Retained Asset Account Cases; An Insurer Does not Need “to Don the Commercial Equivalent...

The First Circuit recently decided two ERISA cases challenging the use of retained asset accounts in favor of the insurer-defendants. The decisions are Merrimon v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., 758 F.3d 46, 50 (1st Cir. 2014)...more

The Latest on the Use of Retained Asset Accounts to Pay Life Insurance Benefits

In Merrimon v. Unum Life Insurance Co. of America, 2014 WL 2960024 (1st Cir. July 2, 2014), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit became the third circuit court to approve an insurance company’s use of a retained...more

Fourth Circuit Rejects Widow’s Claim for Equitable Relief

The Fourth Circuit recently rejected fiduciary breach and equitable estoppel claims for life insurance coverage by Leslie Moon, the widow of a deceased employee, who claimed that the employer’s actions resulted in Mr. Moon’s...more

Equitable Surcharge Awarded to Life Insurance Plan Beneficiary

A federal district court in California awarded relief in the form of surcharge to a life insurance plan beneficiary who claimed that a plan administrator failed to provide complete and accurate information in response to...more

The Debate Continues Over The Fiduciary Status of 401(k) Plan Service Providers

In Golden Star Inc. v. MassMutual Life Ins. Co., 2014 WL 2117511 (D. Mass. May 20, 2014), a district court addressed two issues that have become hotly contested in 401(k) plan fee litigation: (1) whether and when a plan...more

Northern District of Iowa: Litigation “Reasonably Foreseeable” After Insured Accuses Insurer of Acting in Bad Faith

Meighan v. TransGuard Ins. Co. of Am., Inc., No. C13-3024-MWB, 2014 WL 1199596 (N.D. Iowa Mar. 24, 2014). The Northern District of Iowa finds that claim reserves and settlement information created after litigation was...more

Sixth Circuit Issues Shocking Opinion Against ERISA Insurer, Dramatically Changes The ERISA Landscape

In what can only be described as a shocking opinion, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 decision affirming a lower court's award of $3.8 million dollars in disgorged profits to a former president of Arthur J....more

In Abbott, Seventh Circuit Refines Applicability of Class Action Device in Defined Contribution Challenge

In its continuing analysis of when a class may be certified in a case alleging breach of fiduciary duties with respect to a defined contribution plan, the Seventh Circuit, in Abbott v. Lockheed Martin Corporation, reversed...more

In Pipefitters, Sixth Circuit Holds Service Provider Is Fiduciary in Assessing Fee

Speed Read - The Sixth Circuit, in a unanimous decision, affirmed a lower court ruling in Pipefitters Local 636 Insurance Fund v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, holding that an entity providing services to a...more

New York Appellate Court Clarifies Fidelity Bond "Direct Loss" Requirement

In a unanimous July 16th decision, the New York Appellate Division held that MF Global, Inc.’s loss sustained on account of the commodities trading activities of its employee was a “direct financial loss” under MF Global’s...more

Courts Do Not Always Agree

I blogged recently about a decision from a federal district court in Virginia (Eastern District) involving a widow who sought to recover life insurance benefits from her late husband’s employer-sponsored group term life...more

7th Circuit Rules Employee May Recover Monetary Damages In ERISA Claim For Unpaid Benefits Against Insurer Who Denied Coverage...

The Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Kenseth v. Dean Health Plan, Inc. provides a means for employees to collect monetary relief on their claim for benefits if they can show that the terms of the plan were not clear, and...more

Health Insurance Carriers Must Also Be Careful In What They Tell Plan Participants

I blogged recently warning employers to be careful when enrolling employees in plan benefits because the employer could be responsible to pay life insurance or disability benefits if an employee who is improperly enrolled...more

Bad Faith Claims Permitted Against Self-Insured Employers In Iowa – “Fairly Debatable” Defense Precludes Finding This Time

A federal trial court in Iowa confirmed that first-party bad faith claims may be cognizable against both insurers and self-insured employers. In Spencer v. Annett Holdings, Inc., 905 F.Supp.2d 953 (S.D. Iowa, Nov. 27, 2012),...more

Missouri Court of Appeals Joins Majority of Federal Courts in Holding the Prohibition Against Evidence of Subsequent Remedial...

In a matter of first impression, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District has held the exclusionary rule barring evidence of subsequent remedial measures does not apply when the remedial measure was implemented...more

Tenth Circuit Approves Steps Taken to Minimize Impact of Conflict of Interest in ERISA Case

In the recent case of Cardoza v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company, 708 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir. 2013), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals shed some light on steps ERISA claim administrators can take to minimize the impact...more

Saskatchewan Trial Court Awards Record Punitive Damages for Insurer Bad Faith

A Justice of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench has assessed punitive damages totalling $4,500,000 against two insurers in a recent trial decision, Branco v. American Home Assurance et. al., 2013 SKQB 98. In rendering a...more

An Employee's Umbrella Insurance Policy Must Be Exhausted Before Seeking Contribution From Policies Covering The Employer

When an employer is vicariously liable to a third party for its employee’s negligence, and both the employer and employee have primary and umbrella policies covering liability to the third party, the employee’s primary and...more

Legal Project Management Can Reduce Cost and Future Expense

Companies can employ process management techniques to run more efficiently and reduce future legal costs. Among the many steps a company can take in this regard with respect to legal services are the following: 1. When...more

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