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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®



 



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).



LTD Plan Was Not Granted Discretionary Authority, 1st Circuit Panel Determines
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 1 reversed a federal court's ruling that a disability insurer was delegated with discretionary authority and directed the lower court to review a claimant's termination of benefits under a de novo standard of review (Nilda Rodriguez-Lopez v. Triple-S Vida, Inc., No. 15-2413, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3729).



High Court Denies Cert In Case Over Termination Of Long-Term Benefits
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in a case in which the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said a district court did not err in determining that a disability plan did not wrongfully terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits (Elizabeth Jenkins v. Grant Thornton LLP, et al., No. 16-682, U.S. Sup.).



Denial Of Benefits Was Not Arbitrary Or Capricious, Tennessee Federal Judge Says
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Because there was evidence supporting the conclusion that a disability claimant was able to perform a material and substantial duty of her occupation, a disability insurer's denial of her claim for benefits was not arbitrary or capricious, a Tennessee federal judge said March 1 in adopting a magistrate judge's report and recommendation (Kimberly D. Buchanan v. Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., No. 15-202, E.D. Tenn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28513).



Substantial Evidence Supports Plan Denial Of LTD Benefits, Ohio Federal Judge Says
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The denial of a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the claimant was provided with a fair review procedure and substantial evidence supports the denial of benefits, an Ohio federal judge said Feb. 14 in granting the plan's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Angela Schofield v. Nationwide Insurance Cos., et al., No. 16-371, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20687).



California Federal Judge OKs Settlement In Dispute Over Offset Of Veterans' Benefits
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal on March 1 approved a class action settlement between former U.S. veterans and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston after determining that the terms of the settlement, which provides compensation to class members whose disability benefits were offset or reduced by Liberty Life, are reasonable (James L. Bush v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, et al., No. 14-1507, N.D. Calif.).



9th Circuit Panel Upholds Plan's Offset Of Disability Benefits
SAN FRANCISCO - Plan language clearly allowed an insurer to offset permanent partial disability benefits by the amount of long-term disability benefits the employee received, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 16 (John Del Gallego v. Wells Fargo & Co. Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 15-15294, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2753).



Decision To Terminate Partial Benefits Was Reasonable, Judge Says
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's partial disability benefits was reasonable because the insurer worked with the claimant when prorating the claimant's quarterly bonus and the claimant did not object to the method used by the insurer to prorate the bonus, a North Carolina federal judge said March 2 (Frederick Sutherland v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 16-182, W.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29628).



Federal Judge Says Claimant Is Residually Disabled, Not Totally Disabled As Required
ATLANTA - A disability claimant is not entitled to benefits under a policy's lifetime sickness rider because the claimant is residually disabled and not totally disabled as required for benefits under the rider, a Georgia federal judge said Feb. 15 (William F. Nefsky v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 15-2119, N.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21152).



Alabama Federal Judge Says Insurer's Interpretation Was Arbitrary And Capricious
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A disability insurer's interpretation of a tolling provision to extend the 45-day time deadline to decide an administrative appeal was arbitrary and capricious, an Alabama federal judge said March 7 in partially adopting a magistrate judge's recommendation to deny the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Melissa Stevens v. Sun Life and Health Insurance Co. [U.S.], No. 16-76, M.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31734).



New York Federal Judge Says Administrator Failed To Prove Extension Was Warranted
NEW YORK - Because a plan administrator failed to prove that special circumstances existed when it extended the allowable time to issue a decision on appeal, a New York federal judge on Feb. 28 concluded that a de novo standard of review is appropriate (Katherine Salisbury v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 15-9799, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27983).



6th Circuit Finds Disability Coverage Claims Preempted By ERISA
CINCINNATI - After finding that a former marketing director's claims for coverage against a medical review company were completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 affirmed dismissal of the claims and found that a previous lawsuit filed against a plan administrator was the proper recourse (James Hackney v. Allmed Healthcare Management Inc., No. 16-5651, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2877).



Disability Plan Is Governed By ERISA, California Federal Judge Determines
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Feb. 10 denied a plaintiff's motion to remand a disability suit to state court because the disability plan at issue is not a "church plan" and is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Melvyn L. Durham v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America et al., No. 16-8202, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19402).



Judge Converts Motion To Dismiss, Orders Further Briefing In Bad Faith Suit
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Unable to determine from the evidence provided whether an insured's disability benefits plan is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal judge in New Mexico on Feb. 14 converted the insurer's motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment and ordered supplemental briefing (Sherry Evans-Carmichael v. Liberty Mutual Group Inc., No. 16-276, D. N.M., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20599).



Claimant's Suit Was Timely Filed, California Federal Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A disability claimant's suit alleging wrongful termination of benefits was timely filed, a California federal judge said Feb. 13 after determining that the plan's three-year limitations period did not begin to run until after the 180-day deadline to appeal the termination of benefits ended (Nancy Hart v. UNUM Life Insurance Company of America, No. 15-5392, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20198).



Georgia Federal Judge Says Beneficiary Has Adequate Remedy Under ERISA
ATLANTA - Because a beneficiary seeking supplemental life insurance benefits for a plan participant's disability has an adequate remedy under Section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and failed to provide support for a separate breach of fiduciary duty claim, a Georgia federal judge on Feb. 27 dismissed the breach of fiduciary claim alleged against the plan (Stephanie D. Vaughn v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-1107, N.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26743).



10th Circuit Panel Finds No Evidence That Employer Created Hostile Environment
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 24 affirmed that an employer did not create a hostile work environment after learning of an employee's disability because the employee failed to submit sufficient evidence that he was subject to a hostile work environment as a result of his disability (Steven R. Williams v. FedEx Corporate Services, et al., No. 16-4032, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3364).



New York Federal Judge Awards Attorney Fees To Disability Claimant
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on March 6 determined that a disability claimant is entitled to more than $34,000 in attorney fees because the claimant was the prevailing party on motions for summary judgment (Charles Standish v. Federal Express Corp. Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 6:15-cv-6226, W.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31400).