Discovery Disputes in ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Cases: Do the Usual Limitations Apply?

Posted in: Accidental Death or Dismemberment, Administrative Record, Disability Insurance, Discovery, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance December 27, 2018

Discovery Disputes in ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Cases: Do the Usual Limitations Apply?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) manages many of the benefits people receive from their employers.  These benefits include short-term and long-term disability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and pension plans.  When a claim under an ERISA plan is denied, the beneficiary usually must file an administrative appeal with the Claims Administrator for the benefits.  If, after filing an administrative appeal, the Claims Administrator still denies the claim, the beneficiary may sue the Claims Administrator to obtain the benefits in question.  ERISA claims differ from more traditional law suits.  A judge, not a jury, determines whether the beneficiary …

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Insurance Company Bias in ERISA Cases: Hartford’s History of Bias and Discovery of an Insurer’s Biased Claims Administration Process

Posted in: Abuse of Discretion, Conflict of Interest, Disability Insurance, Discovery, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance September 26, 2018

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), a 1974 federal law, sets minimum standards for many employee benefit plans and serves to provide protection for individuals in these plans.  Discovery in ERISA cases is often limited because the statute’s primary goal is to provide inexpensive and expeditious resolution to employee benefit claims.  District courts are generally limited to the administrative record unless a so-called structural conflict of interest exists.  Considering that insurers make benefit determinations on life, health and disability insurance claims and profit when an adverse decision is made, this scenario creates an inherent conflict of interest whenever an insurer administers a claim.

Courts find that a conflict of interest exists where the “entity that administers the plan, such …

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Can an ERISA Claims Administrator Engage in Post-Trial Discovery Regarding Benefit Issues? No, Says District Court

Posted in: Abuse of Discretion, Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Discovery, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog January 21, 2013

In what may be a matter of first impression, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the United States Federal District Court for the Central District of California denied Sun Life and Health Insurance Company’s Objections to Proposed Judgment in an ERISA long-term disability insurance claim case handled by McKennon Law Group PC.  As detailed here, Robert J. McKennon and Scott E. Calvert of the McKennon Law Group secured a victory at trial for their client in an ERISA long-term disability insurance claim lawsuit against Sun Life, with the Court finding that Sun Life abused its discretion in denying Mr. Evans’ claim for long-term disability benefits.  Following the Court’s instructions, Mr. Evans filed a “Proposed Judgment Following Trial.”  Sun Life offered …

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Submission of the Claim File: Seal or Redact?

Posted in: Administrative Record, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Discovery, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Legislation, News June 29, 2010

For most insurance litigation, the majority of the evidence used by both sides comes from the claim file, also known as the administrative record in ERISA cases.  The claim file represents the insurance carrier’s written record of its handling and processing of an insurance claim.  Obviously, this information is highly relevant whenever coverage or a claim is disputed.  Moreover, in the case of life, health, or disability insurance cases, the claim file will also be full of personal and confidential information such as medical records and social security numbers.…

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Under Abatie, Discovery of Profitability Reports is Not Allowed

Posted in: Administrative Record, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Discovery, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, News January 14, 2010

One of the most interesting questions in ERISA litigation is: What constitutes the administrative record for purposes of determining whether the administrator abused its discretion in making a claim determination?  Bartholomew v. Unum Life Ins. Co., 579 F. Supp. 2d 1339 (W.D. Wash. 2008) helped answer this question.

Plaintiff, who sued to recover benefits under her long-term disability (LTD) plan, sought to expand the scope of discovery under ERISA by seeking documents outside the Administrative Record. Among others, the Plaintiff requested; “Details of compensation and financial incentives,” “revenue and profitability reports for the last 10 years,” and “[a]ny document discussing the claims handling process published during the last 10 years.” Despite the recent rulings in Abatie allowing weight to …

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