Lane Powell PC - ERISA Law Blog

ERISA Attorney Fee Awards: What Are “Reasonable Hours” for a Plaintiff’s Attorney to Spend on a Summary Judgment Motion?

You already know that courts typically award attorney fees in ERISA cases when the Plaintiff/claimant achieves “some success on the merits.” But does a mere remand constitute “some success on the merits”? Probably yes…more
| Civil Procedure, Civil Remedies, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA (10th Circuit): Does the ERISA Plan Breach Fiduciary Duties by Informing the Employer of an Employee/Disability Claimant’s Substance Abuse Problem?

Can an ERISA plan administrator tell an employer about an employee’s substance abuse? Doesn’t that breach fiduciary duties to the employee/claimant? Probably not. Check the employer’s employment policies because an…more
| Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: Winning Tactic on Summary Judgment to Prove Claimant Received the Policy: Get Key Evidence into the Administrative Record

You know that to apply an exclusion in a policy, the claims administrator must show that the claimant received the policy. But what happens when the claimant submits a declaration disputing your proof that she received the…more
| Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, Health, Insurance

ERISA: 7 Things to Know About Limited Discovery in ERISA Long Term Disability Cases

You already know that discovery in ERISA cases is generally limited because of the “significant ERISA policy interests of minimizing costs of claim disputes and ensuring prompt claims-resolution procedures.”…more
| Civil Procedure, Insurance, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: Fibromyalgia – “[D]iagnosis is not the automatic equivalent to a finding of disability.”

Fibromyalgia cases often are difficult to assess in determining eligibility for benefits. But the mere diagnosis of a condition (like fibromyalgia) is not enough to qualify for disability benefits under most policy…more
| Civil Procedure, Health, Labor & Employment Law

Washington Supreme Court Restricts Claims Under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act

In a significant victory for insurers, the Washington Supreme Court interpreted the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA), RCW 48.30.015, for the first time and held that IFCA does not authorize an independent cause of action for…more
| Civil Procedure, Insurance

ERISA (7th Circuit): Four Ways To Inoculate Claims Denials From Allegations That a ‘Conflict of Interest’ Affected Your Decision

In the back and forth of the disability claims process, decisions on whether someone is disabled can change. Claims administrators are “entitled to seek and consider new information and, in appropriate cases, to change its…more
| Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: Happy New Year? 10 Things You Need to Know About the Newly Published Regulations Affecting Future ERISA Claims/Appeals

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration just published final regulations that change the ERISA disability claims and appeals process. Here are 10 things you should know about these new…more
| Labor & Employment Law

ERISA (D.C. Cir.): Do You Know the Difference Between a “Payroll Practice,” and Short Term Disability Benefits Governed by ERISA?

What happens when an employer provides a disabled employee continued regular wages, paid out of general employer assets? This is known as a “payroll practice”… and ERISA may not apply. A new case that highlights the point…more
| Labor & Employment Law

ERISA (9th Circuit): How Long Can a Sedentary Person Sit? You Better Check the Dictionary of Occupational Titles

So how do you define “sedentary work”? Can you define it by using a Functional Capacity Assessment? Can you disregard the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) in your assessment? Probably not. Here’s the case of…more
| Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: Failure to Present “Objective Findings of Impairment” Supports Denial of Mental Disability Claim

You know that courts can expect a claimant to establish “objective evidence of impairment” from a physical condition. But does this apply to claims arising out of a mental condition?…more
| Health, Insurance

ERISA: Are Social Security Administration Disability Decisions, Made After the Final Claim Decision, Part of the Administrative Record?

Are Social Security Administration disability determinations, issued after the final appeal decision, part of the ERISA administrative record? NO. Plaintiffs often seek reversal of a denial of ERISA-governed disability…more
| Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: How Do You Spell (Equitable) Relief?

In an ERISA case, what does it take to assert a claim for equitable relief? If the complaint does not assert an alleged breach of fiduciary duty, the claim for equitable relief should be dismissed… Here’s the case of Owens…more
| Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA: Court Establishes New Incentive to Bring Early Motions to Dismiss “Breach of Fiduciary Duty” Claims

You know that in ERISA cases most courts typically will limit review to the administrative record, absent special circumstances. Courts may also allow limited discovery when assessing whether a “conflict of interest” affected…more
| Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law

ERISA Preempts State Law Requiring Insurer “Prompt Payment”

Alaska’s prompt pay statute—which requires insurers to pay benefit claims within 30 days of submission—is preempted by federal laws governing employer-provided benefits and benefits for government workers, a federal judge ruled…more
| Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Health, Insurance, Labor & Employment Law
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