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Hawaii Employment Law Decisions April 10, 2016 - April 16, 2016 - Jeffrey S. Harris

District court did not err by ruling short term disability insurer abused its discretion by denying employee's benefit claim as untimely.  Summary plan description ("SPD") did not adequately inform employee he was required to submit his claim within 60 days after his injury as opposed to 60 days after he ceased participating in the company's temporary return to work ("TRW") program.  SPD said employee was required to submit his claim within 60 days after disability prevented him from doing his job.  Employee could reasonably believe he continued to do his job by participating in the TRW program.   Meguerditchian v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6802 (9TH Cir. April 14, 2016).

Although U.S. Supreme Court held 401(k) plan fiduciaries had continuing duty to monitor investments and remove imprudent ones, Court of Appeals held beneficiaries forfeited their claim fiduciaries committed continuing breaches of the duty within the statute of limitations.  Tibble v. Edison Int'l., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6684 (9th Cir. April 13, 2016).

District court did not err by granting summary judgment against disability discrimination and disparate treatment claims. Employer determined bookkeeping duties could be done by part time bookkeeper when full-time bookkeeper was out on 10 month leave and offered part time position to bookkeeper when returned.  The employer's reason for not returning the employee to full-time work was legitimate and nondiscriminatory and employee did not prove it was pretextual.  Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6788 (9th Cir. April 14, 2016).

District Court did not err by granting summary judgment against wage claim based on judicial estoppel. Employee knew about wage claim, omitted it from his bankruptcy schedules, did not attempt to amend the schedules to correct the omission and had a motive to conceal his claim to get rid of his creditors on the cheap and start over with a bundle of rights.  Wong v. Michael Stores, 2016 U.S. LEXIS App. 6709 (9th Cir. April 8, 2016).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules the courts will follow or disappoint us if they don't. Rules that the courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. But competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case where they are discussed, or expand rules by showing that differences in other cases are irrelevant.