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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®



 



11th Circuit Affirms Finding That Insurer's Termination Of Benefits Was Reasonable
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 12 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer's termination of long-term care disability benefits was reasonable based on the evidence properly considered by the insurer (David Carr v. John Hancock Life Insurance Company USA, No. 16-17134, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12404).



Insurer's Vocational Assessment Was Not Flawed, Mississippi Federal Judge Says
JACKSON, Miss. - A disability insurer's denial of long-term disability benefits was not an abuse of discretion, a Mississippi federal judge said July 11 after rejecting the claimant's argument that the insurer's assessment of her occupation was flawed (Theresa A. Taylor v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 12-702, S.D. Miss., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106783).



Plan Must Consider How Carpal Tunnel Affects Ability To Perform Own Occupation
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on July 31 vacated and remanded a disability plan's denial of a long-term disability benefits claim after determining that the plan failed to consider how the claimant's carpal tunnel syndrome would affect her ability to perform the duties of her own occupation (Jodi Suson v. The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Affiliates Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 15-10817, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119473).



Disability Claimant Met Burden Of Proving She Was Disabled Under Plan
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on July 24 determined that a disability claimant is entitled to long-term disability benefits because the claimant met her burden of proving that she was disabled according to the terms of the plan at issue (Hadar Meiri v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-103, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115224).



Maryland Federal Judge: Denial Of Disability Benefits Was Arbitrary, Capricious
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on July 21 granted a disability claimant's motion for summary judgment after determining that a disability insurer's denial of benefits was arbitrary and capricious because substantial evidence does not support the denial (Wiley Joseph Smith v. The PNC Financial Services Group, et al., No. 15-2232, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113683).



Alabama Federal Magistrate Recommends Disability Claim Be Remanded For Review
DOTHAN, Ala. - An Alabama federal magistrate judge on July 13 recommended that a disability claimant's motion for summary judgment be granted and that the claim be remanded to the plan administrator for consideration because the termination of benefits was not reasonable based on the medical evidence (Richard O. Shultz v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et. al., No. 16-94, M.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109654).



Federal Judge Remands A Portion Of Claim For Disability Benefits
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on July 24 adopted a federal magistrate's recommendation to remand a long-term disability claim as it pertained to the claimant's physical disability, but not the claimant's psychiatric disability, because the evidence may support a finding that the claimant is physically disabled according to the terms of the plan (Marie Richter v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 15-8266, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115119).



Disability Plan's Discretionary Authority Provision Is Void Under California Law
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A de novo standard of review must be applied in a denial of disability benefits suit because the disability plan's discretionary authority provision is not valid under California law, a California federal judge said July 12 in granting the disability claimant's motion for summary judgment (Renee Johnson Monroe v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 15-2079, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109012).



Interpretation Of Plan's Terms Was Reasonable Based On Extrinsic Evidence
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 28 affirmed a district court's ruling that a pension plan had the discretion to decide which level of disability retirement benefits should be paid to a plan participant and that the interpretation of the plan's terms by the plan's board of trustees was reasonable based on the extrinsic evidence (Harold Davis v. Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers, et al., No. 15-17212, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13727).



LTD Plan Is Ambiguous As To Whether Insurer's Offset Was Permitted, Panel Says
NEW ORLEANS - A district court did not err in finding that a disability insurer abused its discretion in offsetting a claimant's long-term disability benefits because the plan is ambiguous as to whether a direct rollover of pension funds to an individual retirement account entitles the insurer to offset the claimant's disability benefits, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 18 (Joel Thomason v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16- 10634, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12932).



Disability Insurer Did Not Breach Contract By Enforcing Offset Provision
PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on Aug. 7 denied a disability claimant's motion for partial summary judgment on the basis that the insurer did not breach its contract by enforcing the policy's offset provision when it reinstated the claimant's disability benefits (Benjamin McClure v. Country Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 15-2597, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123967).



Federal Judge Dismisses Disability-Related Coverage Claims As Time-Barred
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on Aug. 3 granted an insurer's motion to dismiss claims for breach of contract and fraud in relation to its denial of long-term disability (LTD) benefits for a university employee, finding that all of the employee's claims were untimely (Laurel Davis v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 3:17-cv-00738, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122776).



Plan Will Not Be Prejudiced If Disability Claimant Proceeds Under Pseudonym
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on July 26 granted a disability claimant's motion to proceed under a pseudonym after determining that the need for anonymity outweighs prejudice to the defendant and the public's interest in knowing the claimant's identity (John Doe v. Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., No. 17-3963, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117110).



Attorney Fees Awarded To Disability Claimant, But No Contingency Enhancement
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Aug. 1 granted a disability claimant's motion for attorney fees because the claimant achieved a modest level of success on the merits, but the judge refused to apply a contingency enhancement, as requested by the claimant's attorney, after determining that a contingency enhancement is not appropriate when using the lodestar model to calculate the appropriate amount of attorney fees (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 11-15079, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120457).



Disability Claimant Awarded Attorney Fees, Costs As The Prevailing Party
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 24 awarded a disability claimant more than $100,000 in attorney fees and costs because the claimant prevailed on his claim for disability benefits (Avery Armani v. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-7058, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117203).



Missouri Federal Judge Grants Limited Discovery In Disability Benefits Suit
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on July 11 partially granted a disability claimant's motion for additional discovery, but only as it pertained to a plan administrator's claims-handling guidelines, an administrative services agreement and a limited number of documents from a third-party vendor responsible for conducting independent medical reviews on behalf of the plan administrator (Teresa Heartsill v. Ascension Health Alliance et al., No. 17-155, E.D. Mo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106749).



Disability Insurer's Denial Of Benefits Supported By Medical Records, Panel Says
ST. LOUIS - A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in denying a claim for disability benefits because the medical records and evidence support the insurer's denial, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 5 (Michelle E. Cooper v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 16-3429, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11933).



Denial Of Disability Claim Was Reasonable Based On Evidence, Federal Judge Says
DETROIT - A disability insurer did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a claim for disability benefits because the medical evidence supports the denial of benefits and the claimant failed to provide any evidence to rebut the insurer's evidence, a Michigan federal judge said June 20 (Philip J. Holmes v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-11538, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94258).



Disability Plan Did Not Abuse Its Discretion By Denying Benefits Claim, Judge Says
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on June 14 granted a disability plan's motion for judgment on the administrative record after determining that the plan did not abuse its discretion when it denied a former National Football League player's disability claim (Brian C. Jackson v. NFL Disability and Neurocognitive Benefit Plan, et al., No. 16-1278, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91042).



Wisconsin Federal Judge Finds Termination Of Benefits Was Not Arbitrary
MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin federal judge on June 14 granted summary judgment in favor of a disability plan after determining that the plan's decision to terminate a claimant's benefits after learning that the claimant worked as a dog trainer was not arbitrary and capricious (Sarah B. Kalnajs v. The Lilly Extended Disability Plan, No. 16-62, W.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91276).



Disability Claimant's Evidence Supports Finding That Benefits Are Owed
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on June 13 recommended that a disability claimant's motion for summary judgment be granted because the medical opinions of the insurer's reviewing physicians are not consistent with the medical evidence presented by the claimant (Philip Hafford v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-4425, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91763).



Evidence Supports Termination Of Disability Benefits Based On Substance Abuse Provision
CINCINNATI - A disability plan administrator did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it terminated a claimant's benefits based on the plan's substance abuse provision because the evidence supports the administrator's finding that the claimant's disability was caused by the effects of opioid medications, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 30 (Angela Blount v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company, No. 16-6372, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11779).



Termination Of Disability Benefits Was Reasonable, 9th Circuit Panel Affirms
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 affirmed a district court's ruling that the termination of a disability claim was reasonable based on the plan's mental health coverage limitation and the medical evidence considered by the disability insurer (Kathee A. Colman v. American International Group Inc. Group Benefit Plan, et al., No. 15-15903, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10394).



New York Federal Judge: Bipolar Disorder Subject To Disability Plan's 24-Month Cap
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on June 14 said a disability insurer did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on the American Psychiatric Association's definition of mental illness when determining that bipolar disorder is a mental illness and subject to the plan's 24-month cap on disability benefits for a mental illness (Marry Kim v. The Hartford Life Insurance Co., No. 15-2474, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91660).



Pre-Existing Condition Provision Barred Claim For Long-Term Disability Benefits
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on June 19 determined that a disability insurer's denial of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the policy included a pre-existing condition exclusion that clearly precluded coverage to the claimant (Yvonne Hilbert v. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., 15-471, M.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93424).



Substantial Evidence Supports Termination Of Disability Benefits, Appeals Panel Says
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 14 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in terminating a claimant's long-term disability benefits because there is substantial evidence supporting the insurer's termination of benefits (Lashondra Davis v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-10895, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10576).



Claimant Owed Disability Benefits Under Plan's 'Own Occupation' Provision
SAN FRANCISCO - Following a one-day bench trial, a California federal judge on June 13 determined that a disability claimant submitted sufficient evidence showing that he was disabled under a plan's "own occupation" provision but failed to prove that he was disabled under the plan's "any occupation" standard (Robert Bosley v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-00139, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90803).



D.C. Appellate Panel: ERISA Plan Administrator Wrongfully Denied Woman Benefits
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia appeals panel on June 30 said a federal judge correctly ruled that a woman was totally disabled under the terms of her Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed long-term disability plan and that the plan administrator has not satisfactorily supported its conclusion that she was ever capable of full-time work after November 2007 (Jill Marcin v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-78125, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11670).



4th Circuit Panel Says Plan Defendants Are Required To Adopt SSA's Onset Date
RICHMOND, Va. - Because a plan administrator failed to follow a reasoned process in determining a disability claimant's onset date of disability, the plan must adopt the disability onset date determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal said June 23 in affirming a district court's decision (Jesse Solomon v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, et al., No. 16-1730, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11197).



Disability Insurer's Offset Of Benefits Was Reasonable, 3rd Circuit Panel Determines
PHILADELPHIA - A disability insurer was entitled to offset a disability claimant's long-term disability benefits against income the claimant earned by working part time for her medical practice because the claimant still received the benefit of her earnings even though the earnings were applied against debt she owed her medical practice, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said June 7 (Amy Patrick, M.D. v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 16-3980, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10105).



New York Law Bars Offset For Personal Injury Settlement, Appeals Panel Concludes
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 22 reversed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer was entitled to offset a claimant's benefits based on the claimant's settlement of his personal injury claim after determining that New York law bars the disability insurer from offsetting benefits when a claim for personal injuries is settled (Salvatore Arnone v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 15-2322, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11055).



Florida Federal Magistrate Recommends Dismissal Of Claim For LTD Benefits
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida federal magistrate judge on June 19 recommended that a claim seeking a declaration that long-term disability (LTD) benefits are owed be dismissed because the disability claimant did not file a claim for LTD benefits and did not exhaust all her administrative remedies related to the claim for such benefits (Jamie R. Nagy v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 17-80198, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94819).



Federal Judge Says Disability Claimant Is Entitled To Attorney Fees
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A Connecticut federal judge on June 20 awarded a disability claimant more than $38,000 in attorney fees after finding that the claimant is entitled to attorney fees for achieving some success on the merits of his claim (Jeff Schuman v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-1006, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94557).



Kentucky Federal Judge Denies Disability Claimant's Motion To Strike Declaration
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on June 23 denied a disability claimant's motion to strike a corporate representative's declaration after determining that the declaration was properly submitted with the disability insurer's motion for summary judgment (William Kennedy v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 15-741, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97341).



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).