U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claim for Disability Benefits where Loss of Eye from Fungal Infection not “Accident” under Plan

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The plaintiff traveled to West Texas twice in connection with his job, and developed a fungal infection in his right eye that was diagnosed as coccidioidomycosis. Medical providers determined that contact with a West Texas fungus caused the infection, which led to progressive loss of vision, and the ultimate removal of that eye. Disability benefits were denied based on the …

U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Judgment of Dismissal under LPLA, Rejecting Res Ipsa and Claims of “Misconduct” by Defense

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The plaintiff, Mr. Lyles, underwent anterior corpectomy and discectomy surgery, in which a “Verte-Stack” vertebral body replacement device was implanted in Lyles’s cervical spine, along with Progenix, a putty-like bone graft material that was mixed with bone dust.  In addition, an Atlantis Translations Anterior Cervical Plate System was used to stabilize the Verte-Stack and to promote fusion. Some time after …

Southern District of New York Certifies (b)(1) Class Claims under ERISA for Mismanagement of 401(k) Plan

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“Defendants object to class certification under Rule 23(b)(1) as improper in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decisions in LaRue and Wal-Mart. Although courts are split over whether Rule 23(b)(1)(B) remains an appropriate class vehicle for fiduciary-breach claims under ERISA, a majority have held that it is…. “Defendants argue that, because the Supreme Court in LaRue held that §1132(a)(2) allows …

District Court in Colorado Orders GM to Produce FEM Data in Roof Crush Case

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Pertile, a front seat passenger, was badly injured in a rollover. GM’s expert, Ms. Lu, issued a report which states that the roof structure was evaluated in tests that subjected the design to various collision speeds, impact directions and loading directions, and opined, in part based upon her “review of the technical reports and engineering documents” that the 2011 Chevrolet …

U.S. Eleventh Circuit Rejects Challenge to Adequacy Based on Pursuit of Only Statutory Damages in FDCPA Case

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In FDCPA case, the district court held that the Named Plaintiff was an inadequate class representative because he sought only statutory damages, while other members of the class might have suffered actual damages. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed: “As an initial matter, the district court’s stated reason for finding Dickens inadequate — that he sought only statutory …

U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Class of Inmates for Injunctive Relief over Temperatures in Holding Areas

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Defendants’ overarching objection to the district court’s certification focuses on the common contention that “excessive heat constitutes a condition of confinement that poses a substantial risk of serious harm to the health of inmates.”  Defendants do not contest that putative class members are all exposed to essentially the same temperatures. Defendants also do not contest that Pack Unit temperatures, particularly …

Judge Morgan, Sitting in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Applies Strict Products Liability under the General Maritime Law, rather than the LPLA, in a LHWCA Third-Party Case

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A marine cargo surveyor fell into the Mississippi River as he was attempting to board a vessel, wearing an inflatable life vest manufactured by Absolute Outdoor, Inc.  The plaintiff filed an action in rem against the vessel, pleading negligence, as well as a strict products liability claim against Absolute, under the GML.  In its answer, Absolute included a jury demand and …

N.Y. State Bar Prohibits Marketing Fees to Avvo

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A lawyer who wished to participate in Avvo Legal Services sought an Ethics Opinion from the New York State Bar Association.  Legal services would be offered through Avvo’s website, based on marketing fees that Avvo charges.  “Because” the Committee said, “Avvo’s method of operation is crucial to our response, we will devote several paragraphs to describing the Avvo Legal Services …

U.S. Fifth Circuit Dismisses Appeal for Lack of Jurisdiction Where Appellant Fails to Timely Object in the District Court

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“The class members get nothing. The attorneys get their fees. A class member objects, but untimely. Consequently, we lack appellate jurisdiction.” Explaining more fully: “The Supreme Court has often underscored that only parties to a lawsuit, or those that properly become parties, may appeal an adverse judgment. But then the Devlin Court came along and concluded that it should carve …

U.S. Fifth Circuit Grants Rehearing, En Banc, to Consider the Appropriate Standard of Review for Factual Determinations Where Plan Does Not Afford Administrator Discretion

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On July 10, 2017, the U.S. Fifth Circuit granted a Petition for Rehearing, En Banc, to consider the panel’s decision in Ariana M. v. Humana, 854 F.3d 753 (5th Cir. 2017), affirming the denial of medical benefits to a plan beneficiary who had been hospitalized due to serious mental health conditions.  Applying an abuse of discretion standard of review under the Circuit’s …