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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in part ruling in favor of Putnam Investments, LLC and other fiduciaries of Putnam’s defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plan on Plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that Defendants breached fiduciary duties to the plan's participants, clarifying several principles for the district court that should guide its subsequent rulings on remand. Plaintiffs, two former Putnam employees who participated in the Plan, brought this lawsuit on behalf of a now-certified class of other participants in the Plan and on behalf of the Plan itself pursuant to the civil enforcement provision of ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(2), arguing that Defendants offered a range of mutual investments, including Putnam’s mutual funds, without regard to whether such funds were prudent investment options and that Defendants treated Plan participants worse than other investors in Putnam mutual funds. The district court ruled in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(a)(1)(C), breach of loyalty claim, and disgorgement claim; (2) vacated the court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(b)(3) and the finding that Plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show loss; and (3) remanded for further proceedings. View "Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Stryker in an action filed by plaintiff, a former employee, alleging a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court, giving plaintiff as the non-moving party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and any reasonable inferences in her favor, held that there was a genuine issue of material fact about the reason Stryker fired her. In this case, a reasonable jury could interpret the suspicious timing of her firing as evidence that one or both decision‐makers initially found plaintiff's actions in the Vail incident to be tolerable, and that they decided only later, after she had filed her internal complaint, to use that incident as a pretext to fire her for retaliatory reasons. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Donley v. Stryker Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Ira Martel appealed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment on his personal injury claims in favor of his employer, defendant Connor Contracting, Inc., and two co-employees, defendants Jason Clark and Stephen Connor. This case was about two separate exceptions to the exclusivity rule of workers’ compensation, the first of which applied when an employee is injured other than by accident, and the second of which applied when a person or entity could be held personally liable for an employee’s injuries. In August 2013, plaintiff was part of a four-person crew employed by Connor Contracting to perform roof repair work at the Montpelier Health Center. Defendant Jason Clark was the worksite foreperson, and defendant Stephen Connor was the treasurer of Connor Contracting and one of the company owners. While working on the project, plaintiff and the other members of the roofing crew used a personal-fall-arrest system (PFAS), which was safety equipment provided by Connor Contracting and required by the company’s safety program rules, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Plaintiff was completing the soffit work when he fell from the edge of the roof, hit the ground below, and was injured. He was not wearing a PFAS at the time he fell. The parties disputed whether a complete PFAS system was still at the project site on that day and available for plaintiff’s use. Connor Contracting disputes the removal of the PFAS and states that defendant Clark left two harnesses and lanyards at the project site. The Vermont Supreme Court held plaintiff’s action against Connor Contracting was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Furthermore, plaintiff’s action against the individual defendants is barred because the acts that plaintiff alleges give rise to liability fell within the scope of a nondelegable corporate duty and defendants, therefore, cannot be held personally liable for plaintiff’s injuries. View "Martel v. Connor Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Stephen Elliott on his suit against American Capital Energy, Inc. (ACE) and its two principals (collectively, Appellants) claiming breach of contract and violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act, holding that Ellicott’s compensation constituted “wages” under the Wage Act and that the statute of limitations for his Wage Act claim was properly tolled. Elliott filed suit against Appellants seeking compensation for unpaid sales commissions. The jury found all three Appellants liable under the Wage Act and ACE liable for breach of contract. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the jury could reasonably conclude that Ellicott’s sales commissions constituted wages under the Wage Act; (2) tolling the statute of limitations so as to allow Ellicott’s Wage Act claims against one of the principals was justified; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Ellicott’s motions in limine excluding evidence about whether Elliott had agreed to split his sales commissions. View "Ellicott v. American Capital Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Pearson, alleging claims of Title VII sex discrimination and other claims, after she allegedly did not get the same chance to resign with severance pay that three male employees received. Plaintiff also claimed that Pearson lost a key email exchange. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of plaintiff's objection about the emails and the district court's cure -- barring plaintiff from disputing her description of the emails but declining to grant further sanctions -- was sufficient. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the severance-pay discrimination claim where the three proposed comparators were not similarly situated to plaintiff. The court held that there was no evidence of pretext and the misstatement of the standard of review was harmless because the court's review was de novo. View "Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc." on Justia Law

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The employer sought review by the federal district court and obtained a judicial order vacating an award on the ground that the arbitrator improperly applied external law to contradict the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Seventh Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and upheld the arbitrator's award, holding that the text of the CBA permitted the arbitrator to look to external law in interpreting the agreement. The court held that the language contained in the preamble of the CBA suspended any part of the CBA that either the company or union believed to conflict with state law. In this case, while the court would have preferred that the arbitrator cite to that language before applying the Concealed Carry Act to reinstate the employee, the extraordinarily deferential standard of review compelled the court to uphold the award. View "Ameren Illinois Co. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant in an action alleging that plaintiff's injuries were caused by defendant's negligence in driving a tractor trailer truck. The court held that the workers' compensation benefits plaintiff received were his exclusive remedy against defendant. In this case, defendant and plaintiff entered into an employment relationship in which Swift and Johnson were joint employers mutually liable under Iowa law to provide plaintiff workers' compensation benefits when he suffered a work-related injury, an obligation Swift has fully performed. View "Quiles v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DCDC in an action alleging claims of gender, age, and disability discrimination under state and federal civil rights laws. Plaintiff, a 56 year old woman, worked as a correctional officer until she was injured in inmate altercations. After plaintiff worked the maximum allowable number of days of light duty pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), she was terminated when no other suitable position was found. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination; plaintiff's prima facie evidence of bad faith supporting her claim of failure to accommodate/disability was rebutted by the incontrovertible evidence that plaintiff could not have been reasonably accommodated; and plaintiff's age discrimination claim failed because she did not produce evidence of a similarly situated younger person who was treated differently. View "Faulkner v. Douglas County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the award of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, holding that none of Employee’s contentions on appeal warranted modification of the award. In his petition, Employee sought temporary total disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, payment of past and future medical bills, and waiting-time penalties and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Workers’ Compensation Court did not err by failing to (1) award permanent disability based on a loss of earning capacity rather than a member impairment rating; (2) award permanent disability based on a twelve-percent member impairment rating rather than a fifteen-percent member impairment rating; (3) award a waiting-time penalty from the date of the injury rather than the date of payment of benefits in August 2016; (4) award Employee out-of-pocket medical expenses; and (5) award reimbursement of vacation time and short-term disability. View "Bower v. Eaton Corp." on Justia Law

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Petitioner State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, Inc., SEIU, Local 1984 (Union), appealed a New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) order finding respondent State of New Hampshire did not commit an unfair labor practice by prospectively eliminating salary enhancements for newly hired Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) employees under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Based on its review of the PELRB record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, as a matter of law, the Union’s withdrawal of a proposal during the mediation phase that led to the adoption of the 2015-2017 CBA established that elimination of the salary enhancements was a bargained-for result of the new CBA. View "Appeal of State Employees' Association of New Hampshire, Inc., SEIU, Local 1984" on Justia Law