• In In re Guidant Corp. ERISA Litig., No. 05-CV-01009 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 18, 2010), plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement that will provide them with $7 million to resolve their employer stock-drop claims.  
  • In Sheward v. Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19696 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 4, 2010), a district court dismissed plaintiff’s claim that defendants breached their fiduciary duty by miscalculating his pension benefit and then recouping nearly $125,000 in overpayments. In so ruling, the court concluded that the employee who calculated plaintiff's pension amount and communicated it to him was not acting as a fiduciary of the plan.  
  • In Thompson v. Retirement Plan for Employees of S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc., 2010 WL 697237 (E.D. Wis. Feb. 25, 2010), the court certified a class pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2) for plaintiffs’ claim that their benefits had been miscalculated. Defendants argued that plaintiffs’ requested relief (applying 8.95% interest to lump sum calculations for all participants for all class years) created intra-class conflicts because the fixed rate would advantage some participants and disadvantage others, depending on the prevailing rate at the time each challenged lump sum was calculated. The court rejected defendants’ argument, concluding that plaintiffs’ claim concerned the uniform underpayment of benefits and that issues regarding the proper rate for the lump sums should be addressed during summary judgment. In addition, the court rejected defendants’ argument regarding the inadequacy of one of the named plaintiffs, finding that a general release and waiver was not sufficient to bar his service as class representative. Finally, to avoid statute of limitations concerns, the court created several subclasses based on the date of the challenged lump sum payments.
  • In Gillespie v. CUNA Mutual Group Long Term Disability Plan et al., No. 09-CV-120 (S.D.W. Va. Mar. 18, 2010), CUNA moved to dismiss plaintiff’s claim on the grounds that it was barred under the statute of limitations set forth in the plan’s SPD, which required participants to initiate legal action within three years from the date on which “proof of claim” was required. In denying the motion, the court held that the provision in the SPD was unenforceable because ERISA does not permit plans to start the clock on a claimant’s cause of action before the claimant may file suit. The court reasoned that if “the clock starts running at the time proof of claim is required rather than at the time when plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, ‘benefit plans would have the incentive to delay the resolution of their participants’ claims, because every day the plan took for its decision-making would be one day less that a claimant would have to review the plan’s final decision, decide whether to challenge it in court, and prepare for a civil action if need be.’”  
  • In Gordon v. America’s Collectibles Network, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20497 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 8, 2010), plaintiff claimed that America’s Collectibles Network, Inc. (“ACN”) violated ERISA § 510 by terminating him to avoid paying health care costs attributable to his cancer diagnosis. The court granted ACN’s motion to dismiss and held that plaintiff did not establish a prima facie claim under Section 510 because he did not allege, other than in conclusory fashion, that ACN engaged in the allegedly prohibited conduct with a “specific intent to violate ERISA.” In so ruling, the court stated that, under Iqbal, Rule 8 “does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.”  
  • In Stephens v. U.S. Airways Group, 2010 WL 958068 (D.D.C. Mar. 17, 2010), retired airline pilots sued the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as successor-in-interest to the plan, claiming that the plan violated ERISA by: (i) not paying lump sum benefits on their benefit commencement dates; and (ii) not paying interest for the 45-day period between their benefit commencement dates and the dates on which the lump sum benefits were actually paid to plaintiffs. In granting the PBGC’s motion for summary judgment, the court determined that the plan documents did not require U.S. Airways to pay lump sum benefits to plaintiffs on their benefit commencement dates or to pay the interest they requested.  
  • In Jobe v. Medical Life Ins. Co., 2010 WL 986642 (8th Cir. Mar, 19, 2010), the Eighth Circuit held that a SPD does not trump a plan document where the SPD purports to confer on the plan administrator discretionary authority to resolve claims, while the plan document did not. The Circuit therefore remanded the case to the district court for de novo review.