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Published by Elyssa Durant

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Published by: Elyssa Durant on May 18, 2012
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02/02/2013

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FILED
United States Court of AppealsTenth Circuit
July 21, 2009
Elisabeth A. ShumakerClerk of Court
PUBLISHUNITED
 
STATES
 
COURT
 
OF
 
APPEALSTENTH
 
CIRCUIT
TERRENCE D. HOLDEMAN,Plaintiff-Appellant,v.MICHAEL W. DEVINE,Defendant-Appellee,andLEON FLINDERS; MEDICALGROUP INSURANCE SERVICES;JAMES W. SMITH; MARY CAROLJOHNSON; MARIAN BARNWELL;BILLIE A. DEVINE; GENE L.JONES; LARRY HERRON,Defendants.No. 07-4235
Appeal from the United States District Courtfor the District of Utah(D.C. No. 2:02-CV-00365-PGC)
Brian S. King (Marcie E. Schapp with him on brief), Salt Lake City, Utah, forPlaintiff-Appellant.Michael W. Homer (Carl F. Huefner, Jesse C. Trentadue with him on brief) of Suitter Axland, PLLC, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Defendant-Appellee.
 
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Before
McCONNELL, EBEL
, and
GORSUCH
, Circuit Judges.
EBEL
, Circuit Judge.Plaintiff Terrence Holdeman, the representative of a class of employees anddependents of employees who were participants in a self-funded employee benefitplan, appeals the district court’s decision that defendant Michael Devine, astrustee of the plan, is not personally liable for outstanding medical claims that theplan did not pay or never fully paid prior to the employer’s termination of theplan and declaration of bankruptcy. The district court’s judgment was imposedafter this court’s remand directing the lower court to consider several bases forfiduciary liability that had been raised by the plaintiff but were not specificallyaddressed by the lower court’s initial ruling. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm based on an alternative factual finding by the districtcourt.
I.
 
BACKGROUND
The underlying facts in this case are set forth in Plaintiff’s previous appeal.See Holdeman v. Devine, 474 F.3d 770 (10th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff Holdeman is aclass representative of a group of employees and dependents of employees of theState Line Hotel and Silver Smith Casino in Wendover, Nevada. The employeesand their dependents were participants in a self-funded employee benefit plan, the
 
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State Line & Silver Smith Casino Resorts Employee Benefits Plan (“the Plan”),that was sponsored and funded by State Line Hotel, Inc., and its related entities(“State Line”), and governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Plaintiff’s class was left with significant outstanding medicalbills when State Line failed properly to fund the Plan, and then terminated thePlan and filed for bankruptcy. Holdeman, on behalf of himself and a purportedclass comprised of former beneficiaries of the Plan, sued Michael Devine, in hiscapacity as the Plan’s fiduciary, for violations of ERISA, alleging that Devinefailed to assure adequate funding of the Plan to pay all submitted medical claims.Devine was not only the trustee of the Plan and the plan administrator, he alsoserved simultaneously as an officer, and eventually the Chief Executive Officer,of State Line.Following a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Devine. Plaintiff Holdeman, on behalf of himself and the class, appealed, and wereversed and remanded for the district court to consider four issues raised byplaintiff but not specifically addressed by the district court in its final order:whether Devine breached his fiduciary duty to the Plan because he should have“(1) resigned as the fiduciary and obtained the appointment of a person or entitywho was free from a conflict of interest, (2) hired separate, outside counsel forthe Plan, . . . (3) informed the beneficiaries that the Plan was not a reliable sourceof health benefits and that they might need to make alternative arrangements to

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