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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Disability Insurance Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Disability Insurance Legal News



Headline Disability Insurance Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Disability Claimant Provided Administrator With Objective Medical Findings, Panel Says
CINCINNATI - A district court erred in determining that a disability plan administrator's denial of disability benefits was not arbitrary and capricious, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 8 after determining that the disability claimant provided the administrator with objective findings that support a disability (Bruce Corey v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., et al., No. 16-3817, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10179).



9th Circuit Says Disability Claimant Failed To Provide Objective Medical Findings
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 11 affirmed a district court's ruling after determining that a long-term disability (LTD) claim was properly denied because the claimant failed to provide any objective medical findings in support of the claim for benefits (Tricia Z. Cooper v. Intel Corporation Long Term Disability Plan, No. 14-35745, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8380).



7th Circuit Majority Says Reinstatement Of Disability Benefits Was Reasonable
CHICAGO - The majority of a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 affirmed a district court's judgment of more than $580,000 in past disability benefits in favor of a disability claimant after determining that the plan did not specify any type of job the claimant is capable of performing (Cathleen Kennedy v. The Lilly Extended Disability Plan, No. 16-2314, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8738).



Arkansas Federal Judge: Insurer Wrongfully Terminated Disability Claimant's Benefits
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - An Arkansas federal judge on June 5 reversed a disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits after determining that the insurer ignored relevant evidence from the claimant's treating physicians (Damon Zaeske v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 15-5305, W.D. Ark., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85345).



California Federal Judge: Disability Insurer Failed To Properly Weigh All Evidence
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on June 5 reversed a disability insurer's termination of long-term disability (LTD) benefits after determining that the insurer failed to properly consider the reports of the claimant's treating physicians when it found that the claimant was not disabled from the duties of her regular occupation (Lisa Gallegos v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 16-1268, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86123).



California Federal Judge Says Evidence Supports Finding That Claimant Is Disabled
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on May 24 granted a disability claimant's motion for judgment on the administrative record after determining that the evidence does not support the disability insurer's termination of benefits after paying the claimant benefits for almost eight years (Nancy Hart v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 15-5392, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79970).



Indiana Federal Judge: Remand Of Disability Claim Needed For Full, Fair Review
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana federal judge on May 19 granted a motion for administrative remand after determining that remand is necessary to provide a disability claimant with a full and fair review and to allow the disability insurer to review pages that were discovered to be missing from a physician's statement (Dee Ann Miller v. The Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-166, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76398).



Denial Of Disability Claim Was Not Arbitrary And Capricious, Panel Says
DENVER - A district court did not err in finding that a claims administrator's termination of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because substantial evidence exists to support the termination of benefits, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 9 (Tracy Blair, et al. v. Alcaltel-Lucent Long Term Disability Plan, No. 16-7062, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8198).



Colorado Federal Judge Says Termination Of Disability Benefits Was Reasonable
DENVER - The termination of a disability claimant's long-term disability benefits after 19 years of receiving benefits was not arbitrary and capricious, a Colorado federal judge said May 18, noting that the decision to terminate the benefits is supported by substantial evidence (Julie Chen v. CenturyLink, as sponsor and administrator of the CenturyLink Employee Benefit Plan, No. 15-01651, D. Col., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76511).



Disability Claimant's Injury Was Related To Intoxication, 11th Circuit Panel Concludes
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 2 reversed a District Court's ruling that a disability insurer's denial of benefits based on the plan's intoxication exclusion was de novo wrong after determining that that the evidence clearly shows that the claimant's injury was related to intoxication (Steven D. Prelutsky v. Greater Georgia Life Insurance Co., No. 16-15900, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9759).



Texas Federal Judge Says Denial Of Disability Claim Is Supported By Evidence
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on May 9 determined that a disability insurer did not wrongfully deny a claim for breast augmentation surgery under a short-term disability (STD) plan because the evidence supports the insurer's conclusion that the surgery was cosmetic and not necessary to treat the illness of gender dysphoria (Charlize Marie Baker v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-3679, N.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70595).



Kentucky Federal Judge Says Disability Insurer's Offset Was Permitted Under Policy
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on May 16 granted a disability insurer's motion to dismiss after determining that the insurer did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by offsetting the claimant's benefits amount with income the claimant earned as a political consultant (Oliver H. Barber III, et al., v. Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., No. 17-34, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74005).



High Court Denies Disability Plan Administrators' Petition For Writ Of Certiorari
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 22 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by disability plan administrators claiming that a district court and the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow prior decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in disability insurance cases when determining that a claimant's benefits claim was "deemed denied" (Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., et al. v. Janet Solnin, No. 16-1238, U.S. Sup.).



Disability Claimant Failed To Show Exhaustion Of All Remedies Would Be Futile
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Because a disability claimant failed to prove that filing a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits while she was still receiving short-term disability (STD) benefits would have been futile, the claimant failed to exhaust all administrative remedies prior to filing suit against the disability insurer, a Kentucky federal judge said May 4 in granting the insurer's motion to dismiss (Amy Goines v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 17-103, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67986).



9th Circuit Panel Certifies Questions In Disability Suit To Oregon High Court
SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 6 certified two questions to the Oregon Supreme Court regarding the appropriate limitations period in a disability policy after determining that the claimant's suit cannot be resolved until the certified questions are answered (Cynthia Raynor v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 14-36090, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10015).



Beneficiary's Claim Is Barred By 6-Year Statute Of Limitations, Panel Affirms
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 24 affirmed that a beneficiary's claim for increased disability pension benefits is barred by New York's six-year statute of limitations because the beneficiary knew in 2004 that she was not receiving the increased benefits (Julienne Moses, as beneficiary of Paul Moses [deceased] v. Revlon Inc. et al., No. 16-2960, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9005).



Arkansas Statute Doesn't Apply To Disability Policies, Texas Federal Judge Finds
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 17 dismissed a disability claimant's suit after determining that an Arkansas statute providing for a five-year limitations period for filing a suit against an insurer applies only to life and property policies and not to disability policies (Ricardo Rodriguez, et al., v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-3186, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75283).



Disability Claimant's Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim Can Stand, 8th Circuit Panel Says
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal on May 8 remanded a disability claimant's suit after determining that the District Court erred in dismissing the claimant's breach of fiduciary claim because the breach of fiduciary duty claim is based on a different theory of liability than the claimant's denial-of-benefits claim (Lisa Jones v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-1714, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8112).



9th Circuit Panel Says Wrong Standard Of Review Applied In Disability Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 11 reversed a district court's ruling in favor of a disability insurer after determining that the district court applied the wrong standard of review pursuant to California law (Talana Orzechowski v. The Boeing Company Non-Union Long-Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 14-55919, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8348).



Federal Judge Says Disability Claimant's State Law Claims Are Preempted By ERISA
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on May 19 granted a disability insurer's motion to dismiss a claimant's state law claims after determining that the state law claims related to the insurer's denial of disability benefits are completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Albert Yerke v. Aetna, No. 16-06512, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76342).



Disability Claimant Says 6th Circuit's Preemption Decision Must Be Reviewed
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals incorrectly determined that a negligence claim is completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the Sixth Circuit's reasoning conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's analysis for complete preemption, a disability claimant says in a May 22 petition for writ of certiorari filed in the high court (Samantha Milby v. MCMC LLC, No. 16-1409, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1860).



Disability Plan Is Exempt From ERISA, Louisiana Federal Judge Determines
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on May 31 denied a disability insurer's motion for partial summary judgment on a claimant's state law claims after determining that the disability plan at issue is exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the hospital that administered the plan qualifies as a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana (Brenda Andrus v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 16-1112, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82833).



9th Circuit Affirms Ruling That Disability Claimant Waived Right To Contest Denial
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 22 affirmed a district court's finding that a disability claimant waived his rights to contest the termination of his disability benefits because the claimant signed a waiver of all rights, including his rights to contest the termination of his disability claim, as part of a settlement with his former employer for wrongful termination claims (Thomas A. Gonda v. The Permanente Medical Group Inc., et al., No. 15-16484, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8888).



Federal Judge Says Certain Penalties Apply Only To Disability Plan Administrators
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on May 18 partially granted a disability insurer's motion to dismiss a plan administrator's cross-claim seeking contribution and indemnification after determining that the penalties sought under Section 1132(c) of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act can be assessed only against plan administrators (Kimberly Lash v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-235, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75655).



Pennsylvania Federal Magistrate Judge Recommends Disability Insurer Pay Attorney Fees
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge on May 4 recommended that a disability insurer be ordered to pay a disability claimant more than $27,000 in attorney fees because the claimant succeeded on the merits of his claim and the claimant's requested amount of attorney fees was reasonable (Marvin Charles v. UPS National Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 12-6223, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69233).



California Federal Judge Orders Parties To File Joint Proposed Judgment On Attorney Fees
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on May 15 ordered a disability claimant and a disability insurer to submit a joint proposed judgment on the claimant's motion for attorney fees after finding that the claimant is not entitled to collect attorney fees for all the tasks completed by the claimant's attorney (Marlon Montoya v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 14-2740, N.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73781).



Protective Order For Disability Insurer Granted By New York Federal Magistrate Judge
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on June 2 granted a disability insurer's motion for a protective order after determining that the insurer demonstrated that the public disclosure of the information would be valuable to its competitors and place it at a competitive disadvantage (David Robert Aitken v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-4606, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88181).



Disability Claimant's Suit Stayed To Allow Claimant To Attempt To Enforce Subpoena
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on May 23 granted a disability claimant's motion to stay to allow the claimant additional time to enforce a subpoena in Massachusetts federal court against a Massachusetts-based company whose services were used by a disability insurer during the handling of the insured's benefits claim (Susan Card v. Principal Life Insurance Co., No. 15-139, E.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77819).



High Court Refuses To Review Ruling On Remand Of Disability Benefits Claim
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 24 denied a disability claimant's petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to review the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that that the remand of a disability retirement claim was not an abuse of discretion or a violation of a previous court mandate (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 16-1117, U.S. Sup.).



Evidence Supports Insurer's Denial Of Disability Benefits Claim, 6th Circuit Panel Says
CINCINNATI - A district court did not err in finding that a disability insurer's denial of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was reasonable because the denial is supported by substantial evidence, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 2 (Stanley D. Rothe v. Duke Energy Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 16-4225, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7904).



7th Circuit Panel Affirms Disability Plan Benefit Was Not Available To Claimant
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 18 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying a claim for disability life insurance benefits because the disability life insurance benefit was not in the disability plan that was effective when the claimant became disabled (James B. Sumpter v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-2012, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6552).



Panel Affirms Dismissal Of Disability Claimant's Claim For Deprivation Of Rights
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 14 affirmed a district court's dismissal of a disability claimant's allegation of deprivation of rights after determining that the pension plan that administered the disability plan at issue did not act in the interests of the "state" as required by the federal statute governing the claim for deprivation of rights (Joseph Reinwand v. National Electrical Benefit Fund, et al., No. 16-3381, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6472).



Federal Judge Allows Disability Claimant To Amend Complaint Against Insurer
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on April 13 granted a disability claimant's motion to amend a complaint to add a claim against a disability insurer after determining that the insurer will not be prejudiced by the amendment (Abraham Ghorbanian DDS v. Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, et al., No. 14-1396, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57015).



Termination Of Disability Benefits Was Not Arbitrary And Capricious, Judge Says
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious, a New York federal judge said May 2, noting that the insurer relied on the opinions of multiple independent physicians and vocational experts before terminating the claimant's benefits (Marybeth M. Donlick v. Standard Insurance Co., f/k/a StanCorp Financial Group Inc., No. 16-617, N.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66397).



Disability Insurer Erred In Finding Claimant Is Not Disabled From Any Occupation
CHICAGO - A Chicago federal judge on April 25 awarded a disability claimant past due and future long-term disability (LTD) benefits after determining that the administrative record does not support a finding that the claimant is qualified to work in a position identified in a vocational analysis completed by the disability insurer (Ramona Contreras v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 16-3495, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62951).



Federal Judge Remands Claim To Consider If Claimant Was Disabled From Any Occupation
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on April 12 remanded a disability claim to the plan administrator to determine whether the disability claimant was disabled under the plan's "any occupation" standard (Bertha Campos v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 15-8304, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56185).



Disability Claimant Owed Benefits Under Own-Occupation Standard, Federal Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - Because a disability claimant submitted substantial evidence proving that she was disabled from her own occupation, the claimant is owed retroactive disability benefits for the 24-month period of disability under the own-occupation standard, a California federal judge said April 11 (Cathleen Murphy v. California Physicians Service, et al., No. 14-2581, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55431).



Disability Claimant Is Not Precluded From Pursuing Claim, Magistrate Judge Says
ST. LOUIS - A disability claimant is not barred from pursuing a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits because the claimant was not required to disclose the disability benefits claim as part of her assets in a bankruptcy case as the disability claim did not begin to accrue until after the bankruptcy case was filed, a Missouri federal magistrate judge said May 2 (Rochelle Byrd v. Wellpoint Flexible Benefit Plan, et al., No. 17-8, E.D. Mo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66460.



Plan Administrators Seek High Court's Review Of Disability Benefits Decision
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Because a district court and the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow prior decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in disability insurance cases, the high court should grant the plan administrators' petition for writ of certiorari, the plan administrators argue in an April 12 petition (Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., et al. v. Janet Solnin, No. 16-1238, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1371).



Procedural Violation Does Not Justify Award Of Disability Benefits, 9th Circuit Says
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 4 vacated and remanded a district court's ruling in a disability benefits suit after determining that the disability insurer's failure to comply with procedural requirements does not, on its own, justify an award of benefits in favor of the claimant (Gregory Smith v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., Nos. 16-15319, No. 16-15413, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5835).



Disability Claimant Failed To Request Copy Of Plan Description, Judge Says
MILWAUKEE - Because a disability claimant did not specifically request a copy of a disability plan's summary plan description (SPD) when inquiring about the availability of disability benefits, the plan administrator did not violate the requirements of Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a Wisconsin federal judge said April 14 (Susan Limbach v. Weil Pump Co. Inc., No. 15-1531, E.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57526).



Disability Claimant Failed To Exhaust Administrative Remedies, Judge Says
COVINGTON, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on April 17 granted a disability insurer's motion to dismiss the claims alleged against it by a disability claimant after determining that the claimant did not exhaust her administrative remedies because she did not file an administrative appeal within the prescribed 180-day time period (Cheryl Stacy v. Appalachian Regional Healthcare Inc., et al., No. 16-186, E.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57953).



Disability Insurer Is Entitled To Seek Reimbursement For Overpayment Of Benefits
CHICAGO - A disability insurer has a right to seek reimbursement for the overpayment of long-term disability benefits because both the terms of the disability plan and an agreement the claimant executed with the insurer afford the insurer the right to seek reimbursement, an Illinois federal judge said April 26 in denying the claimant's motion to dismiss the insurer's counterclaim (Natalie Schiavone v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 16-9848, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63035).



Disability Insurer Failed To File Claim Before Statute Of Limitations Expired
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Because a disability insurer's counterclaim for unjust enrichment against a disability claimant was not filed before the applicable six-year statute of limitations expired, an Iowa judge on April 28 granted the claimant's motion for partial summary judgment on the unjust enrichment claim (Amy Stanczyk v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 15-97, N.D. Iowa, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64764).



Connecticut Federal Judge Says Disability Claimant Is Entitled To Attorney Fees
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A disability claimant is entitled to more than $40,000 in attorney fees because the claimant achieved some success on the merits as her claim for benefits was remanded to the plan administrator, a Connecticut federal judge said April 14 (Jennifer Dwinnell v. Federal Express Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 14-1439, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57828).



Disability Claimant Permitted To Depose Independent Medical Consultant, Federal Judge Says
CHICAGO - A disability claimant is permitted to depose an independent medical consultant because a physician's potential biases could affect a decision regarding whether the claimant was actually disabled, an Illinois federal judge said April 10 (Becky Harding v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-6700, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54241).



Magistrate Judge Agrees With Disability Claimant, Says Rebuttal Was Not Timely
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on April 25 granted a disability claimant's motion to exclude an expert witness rebuttal report filed by a disability insurer after determining that the report was not filed by the deadline established by the court (James H. Pogue v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., No. 14-598, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62227).



Claimant Failed To Prove He Was Disabled Under Policy, 6th Circuit Panel Affirms
CINCINNATI - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits is supported by the medical evidence, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said March 22, agreeing with a district court's finding that the claimant failed to show that his depression prevented him from performing the duties of his occupation (Les A. Gilewski v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-2028, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5240).



Plan Did Not Wrongfully Deny Benefits To Claimant, California Federal Judge Says
LOS ANGELES - The decision to deny disability benefits to a claimant who was rendered quadriplegic was not an abuse of discretion because the claimant failed to timely file his claim for benefits, a California federal judge said March 20 (Gregory Clark v. Provident Life and Accident Ins. Co., et al., No. 15-6458, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39825).



Disability Claimant's Suit Properly States Claim For Relief, Federal Judge Says
BILLINGS, Mont. - A Montana federal judge on March 28 denied a disability insurer's motion to dismiss after determining that the disability claimant's complaint properly states a claim for relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Theresa Sand-Smith v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 17-0004, D. Mont., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45808).



Minnesota Federal Judge: Plan's Denial Of Benefits Was Not Arbitrary And Capricious
MINNEAPOLIS - A benefit plan did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a participant's claim for short-term disability benefits because substantial evidence supports the plan's finding that the participant was able to return to work, a Minnesota federal judge said March 17 (Jeremy Braden v. AT&T Umbrella Benefit Plan No. 3, No. 16-729, D. Minn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39030).



Disability Claimant Permitted To Supplement Record With Treating Physician's Letter
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on March 23 permitted a disability claimant to supplement the administrative record to add a letter from his treating physician, noting that the letter will help to clarify the ambiguity of the physician's response to a question posed by the disability insurer (Thomas Reddick v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-2326, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42649).



Claimant Petitions High Court To Review Ruling That Remand Was Not Violation Of Mandate
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Because the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow the law-of-the-case doctrine when it determined that the remand of a disability retirement claim was not an abuse of discretion or a violation of a previous court mandate, the U.S. Supreme Court should grant certiorari, a disability claimant maintains in a March 13 petition for writ of certiorari (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 16-1117, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 954).



Federal Judge Affirms Disability Insurer's Decision To Terminate LTD Benefits
DENVER - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits after determining that the claimant was not disabled from performing "any occupation" was not arbitrary and capricious, a Colorado federal judge said March 28 in affirming the denial of benefits (Julie Johnson v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 15-699, D. Colo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45643).



Insurer Properly Considered Doctoral Program Requirements When Terminating Benefits
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A disability insurer's reliance on a claimant's attendance requirements for a doctoral degree program was properly considered by the insurer when it terminated the claimant's long-term disability benefits on the basis that the claimant was not disabled from performing "any gainful occupation," a Michigan federal judge said March 21 in granting the insurer's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Sherri Black v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 15-1147, W.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40168).



Claimant No Longer Disabled Under Plan's Terms, Indiana Federal Judge Says
INDIANAPOLIS - The termination of a claimant's long-term disability benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the claimant was not disabled from "any gainful occupation," an Indiana federal judge said March 17 (Jill A. Stafford v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-2032, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38564).



Federal Judge Says Remand Of Disability Claim Needed On Reasonable Occupation Issue
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Because it is not clear from the administrative record whether a disability insurer correctly applied a plan's "reasonable occupation" standard, a Connecticut federal judge on March 20 remanded the claim for further consideration of the reasonable occupation issue (Jeff Schuman v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-1006, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39388).



Disability Insurer's Reliance On Mental Health Limitation Was In Error, Judge Says
LOS ANGELES - Because a disability claimant established that his disability was caused by brain damage and not depression and anxiety, a disability insurer's reliance on the plan's mental illness limitation to terminate his benefits was in error, a California federal judge said March 27 (John Doe v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, et al., 15-04089, C.D. Calif.. 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45774).



Insurer Acted Arbitrarily In Determining Disability Onset Date, 1st Circuit Panel Says
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 determined that a disability insurer acted arbitrarily and capriciously by relying on a job description of a generic "lawyer" rather than a job description of a specialized "environmental lawyer" when it determined the onset date of a claimant's disability (Jane Doe v. Standard Insurance Co., No. 16-2085, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5232).



Disability Claimant Failed To Timely Submit Claim, Federal Magistrate Judge Says
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A North Carolina federal magistrate judge on March 30 granted a disability plan's motion for summary judgment after determining that the disability claimant failed to comply with the plan's proof-of-loss requirement (Scott L. Hartquist v. Emerson Electric Co., et al., No. 11-1067, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47611).



Disability Claimant's Suit Dismissed For Failure To Timely File Appeal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A disability claimant's suit alleging wrongful denial of disability benefits must be dismissed because the claimant failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing suit, a Kentucky federal judge said March 27 (Bonnie E. Decola v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 16-185, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43960).



Disability Claimant's Suit Barred; Administrative Remedies Not Exhausted, Judge Says
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Because a disability claimant failed to file an administrative appeal within 180 days of the termination of his long-term disability (LTD) benefits, the claimant's suit against the disability insurer is barred, an Alabama federal magistrate judge said March 24 (Joey Horton v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 15-933, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42830).



Federal Judge Dismisses Third-Party Administrator From Disability Benefits Suit
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on April 4 dismissed a third-party administrator from a disability claimant's suit seeking benefits because the third-party administrator did not exercise final authority over disputed claims (Kimberly Lash v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-235, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51029).



Insurer Was Not Estopped From Terminating Benefits, Tennessee Federal Judge Says
GREENVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee federal judge on March 13 adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to deny a disability claimant's motion for summary judgment after finding no basis for the claimant's objection that the insurer was estopped from terminating his disability benefits (Robert Justice v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 15-134, E.D. Tenn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35388).



Disability Plan's Provision Is Not Barred By Calif. Statute, Federal Judge Says
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Because a short-term disability plan is a self-funded plan, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts a California statute that bars the plan's discretionary authority provision, a California federal judge said March 28 in determining that the plan's denial of benefits was supported by substantial evidence (Daniel Johnson v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-1940, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45858).



Disability Plan's Provision Granting Discretionary Authority Is Void
SAN FRANCISCO - A de novo standard of review must be applied in a claimant's suit seeking long-term disability benefits because the plan's discretionary authority provision is void under California state law, a California federal judge said March 27 (Peter Englert v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 15-4814, N.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44833).



Breach Of Contract Claim Completely Preempted By ERISA, Federal Judge Says
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on March 13 denied a disability claimant's motion to remand and granted a disability insurer's motion to dismiss after determining that a breach of contract claim is completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (James Heldt v. Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, No. 16-885, S.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36490).



Disability Claimant Owed Attorney Fees As Some Success On The Merits Was Achieved
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A disability claimant who achieved some success on the merits of her claim is entitled to attorney fees; however, the amount owed to the claimant cannot be determined until the claimant submits a supplemental brief, an Ohio federal judge ruled March 23 (Tina Myers v. Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 14-2421, N.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42450).



District Court Erred By Reducing Attorney Fees, Claimant Argues On Appeal
BOSTON - A disability claimant who successfully recovered benefits from a disability insurer argues in a Feb. 27 reply brief filed in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a district court failed to promote the goal of making the claimant whole under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) when it limited the amount of prejudgment interest and reduced the amount of attorney fees the claimant could collect from the insurer (Diahann L. Gross v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, Nos. 16-2002, 16-1958, 1st Cir.).



Purchase Of Retirement Home Is Relevant To Claim For Disability Benefits, Judge Says
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Because certain circumstances regarding a disability claimant's move to Florida may be relevant to a claim for total disability benefits, a Florida federal judge on March 29 determined that a disability insurer is entitled to information regarding the claimant's real estate transactions (Mark Goodman v. Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 16-81742, S.D. Fla.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45966).



Judge Denies Insured's Remand Motion In Insurance Bad Faith Suit
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit to state court is not proper because the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory limit, a federal judge in Ohio ruled March 13 (Leslie Wyatt v. New England Mutual Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-40, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35504).