Amara v. Cigna Corporation, s. 20-202 (L)

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Citation53 F.4th 241
Docket Numbers. 20-202 (L),20-3219 (Con),August Term 2021
Parties Janice C. AMARA, Gisela R. Broderick, and Annette S. Glanz, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CIGNA CORPORATION and CIGNA Pension Plan, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date10 November 2022

53 F.4th 241

Janice C. AMARA, Gisela R. Broderick, and Annette S. Glanz, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
CIGNA CORPORATION and CIGNA Pension Plan, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 20-202 (L)
20-3219 (Con)
August Term 2021

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Argued: November 22, 2021
Decided: November 10, 2022

53 F.4th 244

For Plaintiffs-Appellants: Stephen R. Bruce (Allison C. Pienta, on the brief), Stephen R. Bruce Law Offices, Washington, D.C. Christopher J. Wright, on the brief, Harris Wiltshire Grannis, LLP, Washington D.C.

For Defendants-Appellees: A. Klair Fitzpatrick (Jeremy P. Blumenfeld, on the brief) Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Philadelphia, PA.

Before: Livingston, Chief Judge, Kearse and Lee, Circuit Judges.

Debra Ann Livingston, Chief Judge:

In these consolidated appeals, Plaintiffs-Appellants Janice C. Amara, Gisela R. Broderick, and Annette S. Glanz (collectively, "Plaintiffs") appeal on behalf of a class from several postjudgment orders of the district court (Arterton, J. ).

53 F.4th 245

In their first appeal, No. 20-202, Plaintiffs challenge orders implementing a final judgment that, among other things, required Defendants-Appellees Cigna Corporation and CIGNA Pension Plan (collectively, "Cigna") to reform Cigna's pension plan to pay greater benefits to members of the plaintiff class. See Amara v. CIGNA Corp. (Amara V ), 775 F.3d 510 (2d Cir. 2014). After we affirmed the final judgment in Amara V , the district court, in a series of four decisions, resolved disputes between the parties about the methodology Cigna would use to calculate the reformed pension benefits. More than a year later, Plaintiffs moved for sanctions against Cigna and for other relief. The district court denied that motion. On appeal, Plaintiffs seek to challenge both the district court's order denying sanctions and its earlier orders addressing the methodology for calculating benefits. Cigna moves to dismiss, principally arguing that we lack jurisdiction because Plaintiffs’ appeal is untimely.

For the reasons explained below, we grant in part and deny in part Cigna's motion. Plaintiffs did not timely appeal from the district court's orders addressing the methodology for computing individual relief, so we lack jurisdiction over that portion of Plaintiffs’ appeal. But we have jurisdiction over the portion of Plaintiffs’ appeal challenging the district court's order denying sanctions. Considering that order on the merits, we conclude that it was not an abuse of discretion and so affirm.

After Plaintiffs appealed in No. 20-202, they moved for an equitable accounting in the district court. The district court denied that motion, and Plaintiffs appealed again. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to order an equitable accounting, we also affirm in No. 20-3219.


Methodology Orders

We discussed the background of this litigation in Amara V , 775 F.3d at 513–19. Amara V affirmed the district court's final judgment ordering Cigna to reform its pension plan to pay greater benefits to Plaintiffs under Parts A and B of Cigna's pension plan ("A+B" remedy). On remand, the parties disputed how Cigna would calculate A+B benefits. The district court resolved those disputes in four orders. See Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara VI ), Joint App'x in No. 20-202, at 198–219 (D. Conn. Jan. 14, 2016); Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara VII ), 2017 WL 88968 (D. Conn. Jan. 10, 2017) ; Amara v. CIGNA Corp. (Amara VIII ), 2017 WL 10902877 (D. Conn. July 14, 2017) ; Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara IX , and together with Amara VI , Amara VII , and Amara VIII , the "Methodology Orders"), 2017 WL 5179230 (D. Conn. Nov. 7, 2017).2 The Methodology Orders established how Cigna would calculate the dates from which sums were due under Part A or Part B, the dates from which prejudgment interest should be paid, and the prejudgment interest rate, among other issues. Joint App'x in No. 20-202, at 209 n.15; Special App'x in No. 20-202, at 14. The district court issued the last Methodology Order in November 2017.

Attorney's Fees Order

The next month, Plaintiffs requested attorney's fees based on their valuation of the plaintiff class's total recovery. In the

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first sentence of their December 2017 attorney's fees request, Plaintiffs asserted: "This Court has completed its orders on the methodology for computing individual relief under the A+B reformation in this class action." Plaintiffs’ Notice of Value of Common Fund Recovery ("Plaintiffs’ 2017 Request for Attorney's Fees"), Ex. A to Cigna's Motion To Dismiss in No. 20-202 ("MTD"), at 1. Plaintiffs contended that they had computed "the value of the common fund recovery" "[i]n compliance with that methodology." Id. Plaintiffs also reported they would "deduct the fee award from the individual relief amounts and provide notice to the class of the benefits payable to them" after the court decided their fee request. Id.

Cigna disputed Plaintiffs’ common-fund calculation, so the district court convened a status conference to address that issue in July 2018. At that conference, Plaintiffs attempted to raise issues concerning the Methodology Orders. But the district court rebuffed Plaintiffs’ attempt, instructing the parties in no uncertain terms that the time for litigating those issues had come and gone. See Joint App'x in No. 20-202, at 646 ("[W]e're not going to relitigate methodology; and to the extent there are issues that could have been brought up in the motions related to methodology and weren't, it's really too late."). The district court declined to "act[ ] in response to what appears to be the Plaintiffs’ invitation for the relitigation of settled methodology disputes or perhaps new methodology disputes[.]" Id. at 671; see also id. at 652 ("I don't see that at this point we can or should be relitigating any of the methodology.").

The district court later adopted Plaintiffs’ proposal for calculating attorney's fees. Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara X ), 2018 WL 5077894 (D. Conn. Oct. 17, 2018). In so doing, the district court recognized that the parties’ lingering dispute over attorney's fees prevented Cigna from paying A+B benefits. See id. at *1 ("The parties dispute the proper calculation of the present value of the common fund recovery, which must be determined in order for the Court to rule on Plaintiffs’ pending motion for attorney's fees, which in turn must be ruled on in order for remedy payments to begin issuing to class members."). The district court subsequently awarded attorney's fees, emphasizing that Cigna should "avoid further delay in remedy payments to class members." Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara XI , or the "Attorney's Fees Order"), 2018 WL 6242496, at *3 (D. Conn. Nov. 29, 2018).

Cigna promptly began to calculate and pay A+B benefits. By December 29, 2018, Cigna had calculated remedy benefits for about 27,000 class members. Joint App'x in No. 20-202, at 882. By January 28, 2019, Cigna had sent remedy notices containing benefits calculations to all class members. Id. By February 27, 2019, Cigna had paid nearly $30 million in past due benefits to over 8,900 class members. Id. And by March 2019, Cigna had mailed a form to class members who were eligible for immediate annuity benefits that permitted them to elect the manner in which they would receive their annuity payments. Id.

Sanctions Order

In April 2019—almost six months after the district court awarded attorney's fees and over a year after the last Methodology Order—Plaintiffs moved to enforce the Methodology Orders and to hold Cigna in contempt and impose sanctions. They contended that Cigna had not complied with the final judgment or the Methodology Orders in calculating the A+B relief. The district court denied that motion. See Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara XII ), 2019 WL 3854300 (D. Conn. Aug. 16, 2019) ;

53 F.4th 247

Amara v. CIGNA Corp. (Amara XIII , and together with Amara XII , the "Sanctions Order"), 2020 WL 127696 (D. Conn. Jan. 10, 2020). Plaintiffs appealed in No. 20-202 soon after, challenging both the Methodology Orders and the Sanctions Order.

Equitable Accounting

After appealing in No. 20-202, Plaintiffs moved in the district court for an "equitable accounting" of Cigna's efforts to satisfy the judgment. The district court denied that motion, concluding that it had "previously accepted Cigna's representations that the current amounts owed to Class Members have been remitted and the judgment satisfied." Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara XIV ), 2020 WL 4548135, at *5 (D. Conn. Aug. 6, 2020) ; see also Amara v. Cigna Corp. (Amara XV ), Special App'x in No. 20-3219, at 13–14 (D. Conn. Sept. 10, 2020) (reaffirming on reconsideration that "Plaintiffs failed to offer a persuasive substantive legal justification for why an accounting should be ordered"). Plaintiffs timely appealed in No. 20-3219. We consolidated the appeals.


I. Appeal in No....

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