Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Madeline Chimento Rea

Madeline Chimento Rea

Associate

Madeline C. Rea is an associate and a member of the Labor & Employment Law Department. She works on a variety of litigation matters and has experience in research, motions, depositions, discovery and trial preparation. She also represents financial institutions and counsels business entities.

Madeline’s practice focuses on class actions and complex ERISA litigation, and she handles matters involving both employee benefits and breach of ERISA fiduciary duty claims. She is also a contributor to Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation blog.

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U.S. Supreme Court Seeks Solicitor General’s Input on Co-fiduciary Indemnification

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the government’s views on a petition for certiorari asking the Court to decide whether ERISA permits a cause of action for indemnity or contribution by an individual found liable for breach of fiduciary duty.  The underlying dispute resulted from … Continue Reading

Honeywell Defeats Retirees’ Class Action Suit for Lifetime Health Benefits

A federal district court in Ohio dismissed retirees’ claims for lifetime healthcare benefits from Honeywell.  Honeywell provided healthcare benefits to plaintiffs through a series of collective bargaining agreements and, although it continued to do so for several years after the final CBA expired, Honeywell eventually notified plaintiffs that it would terminate contributions toward their healthcare benefits.  … Continue Reading

District Court Rejects Retirees’ Claim for Lifetime Healthcare Benefits

A federal district court in Michigan dismissed retirees’ claims for lifetime, unalterable healthcare benefits from BorgWarner.  BorgWarner provided healthcare benefits to Plaintiffs through a series of collective bargaining agreements  and health insurance agreements.  After BorgWarner unilaterally modified the available retiree healthcare benefits, Plaintiffs filed suit.  Applying the principles set forth in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. … Continue Reading

District Court Applies Dudenhoeffer “More Harm Than Good” Standard to Closely-Held Corporation

A federal district court in Mississippi ruled for the first time that the “more harm than good” pleading standard established by the Supreme Court in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (2014), applied to employer “stock drop” claims brought against the fiduciaries of plans sponsored by closely-held corporations. Hill Brothers Construction Company, … Continue Reading

District Court Rules Johnson Controls Retirees Not Entitled to Lifetime Health Benefits

A district court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 135 S. Ct. 926 (2015), the Third Circuit’s rule that clear and express language was required for health benefits to vest was still good law. On that basis, it ruled that … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Rules that Employer Can Terminate Retiree Health Benefits

The Sixth Circuit ruled that retirees of Moen Inc. were not entitled to lifetime health benefits upon finding that an underlying collective bargaining agreement (CBA) did not create vested rights to these benefits.  Moen and its predecessor were parties to several CBAs with a local affiliate of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural … Continue Reading

Retiree Health Benefits Case Remanded to District Court for Additional Fact Finding

On remand from the Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit sent the parties in Tackett v. M&G Polymers USA, LLC back to the district court for additional factual determinations on whether the retirees who commenced the lawsuit had vested in their health benefits. Nearly a decade ago, a class of retirees sued their former employer’s successor, … Continue Reading

Another Post-Tackett Ruling Denying Retiree Health Benefits

A district court in West Virginia recently held that retirees were not entitled to lifetime health benefits under the clear and unambiguous language of the relevant collective bargaining agreements.  Shortly after Constellium modified retiree health benefits to provide less favorable coverage, the retirees sued, alleging that they had a vested right to the prior level … Continue Reading

ERISA Participant’s Supplemental Submission Doesn’t Restart Exhaustion Clock

A federal district court in New Jersey held that supplemental documentation submitted by a participant in connection with the claims review process did not restart the clock for a claims administrator to decide the participant’s appeal.  Plaintiff Tracee Lewis-Burroughs timely appealed Prudential Insurance Company of America’s decision to stop paying her long-term disability benefits.… Continue Reading

Third Circuit: Catalyst Theory of Recovery Applies to ERISA Fee Award

The Third Circuit held that the catalyst theory of recovery applies to ERISA cases when determining whether to award attorneys’ fees.  In this case, Plaintiffs (two individuals and two pharmacies) filed suit against Defendant insurance companies for denial of benefits under ERISA.  After their motion to dismiss was denied, Defendants paid the claims in full.  … Continue Reading

MHPA Class Action Settlement

A federal district court in Washington recently granted preliminary approval to a $6 million settlement of a mental health parity class action suit against Regence Blueshield.  Plaintiffs claimed that defendants routinely excluded and limited coverage of the essential therapies to treat children with developmental disabilities.  A fairness hearing is scheduled for September 11, 2015.  The … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules That Harmless Procedural Violation Does Not Alter Standard of Review

The Ninth Circuit held that a plan administrator’s failure to render a decision on a long-term disability benefits claim within the period mandated by the plan and ERISA did not alter the standard of review that the court should apply to the plan fiduciary’s decision concerning the claim.  Plaintiff Isela Dimery received long-term disability benefits … Continue Reading

Fiduciary Breach Claim Based On Oral Representation Can Proceed

A federal district court in New Jersey held that oral misrepresentations may support a breach of fiduciary duty claim under ERISA.  Plaintiff Richard Lees was hired by American Re–Insurance Company, although he was paid by another entity called SMS.  When American sought to transfer Lees to its payroll, Lees allegedly agreed to the transfer only … Continue Reading

Procedural Errors Don’t Alter Standard of Review In ERISA Claim for Benefits

The Ninth Circuit recently held that where an ERISA plan provides the plan administrator discretionary authority to determine benefit claims, procedural violations that occur during the course of the administrative claims process “do not alter the standard of review unless those violations are so flagrant as to alter the substantive relationship between the employer and … Continue Reading
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