Roberts Disability Law Blog

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In this short unpublished opinion, McCool v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 18-56529, __F.App’x__, 2021 WL 1235842 (9th Cir. Apr. 2, 2021), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of LINA, finding that “the district court did not clearly err in finding that McCool failed to meet his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he could not sit for four hours a day.” The court…
In Roebuck v. USAble Life, No. 19-1855, __F.3d__, 2021 WL 1216217 (8th Cir. Apr. 1, 2021), Plaintiff-Appellant Karen Roebuck appealed the district court’s order holding that USAble Life did not abuse its discretion in denying her claim for disability benefits. Roebuck worked as a registered nurse before claiming disability due to injuries sustained after a car accident. USAble had her undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”), which found she could work a full-time schedule.…
In re Becker, No. 20-72805, __F.3d__, 2021 WL 1219745 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2021) (Before Siler, Rawlinson, and Bumatay). The Ninth Circuit denied Becker’s petition for a writ of mandamus to cancel the district court’s order transferring her case against Wells Fargo from the Northern District of California to the District of Minnesota pursuant to a forum selection clause in the company’s 401(k) Retirement Plan. The Ninth Circuit explained that ERISA’s goal of “ready…
In Morris v. Lincoln National Life Ins. Co., No. 19-1546, __F.App’x__ (4th Cir. Mar. 30, 2021), Plaintiff-Appellant Stephanie Morris was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy offered to her husband, Stephen Morris, through his employment. Mr. Morris was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2014 and did not return to work until his death in September 2015.  Mr. Morris was covered by a group policy insured by Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company…
The recent district court decision in Degreenia-Harris v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 2:19-CV-00218, 2021 WL 1165502 (D. Vt. Mar. 26, 2021) shows us how the presence of drugs in one’s system at the time of death should not necessarily lead to a denial of accidental death benefits. In Degreenia, the daughter and beneficiary of Denny DeGreenia sued Defendant Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) to recover benefits under a group…
On March 11, 2021, I reported about the recent district court decision in Gray v. Minnesota Life Insurance Company, No. CV H-19-4672, 2021 WL 861298 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 8, 2021). In Gray, the court had to decide whether a dismemberment is payable under the terms of an ERISA-governed accidental death and dismemberment (“AD&D”) policy. Ruling in favor of Minnesota Life Insurance Company, the court determined that the dismemberment was not caused by an accident.…
In Nolan v. Detroit Edison Co., No. 19-1867, __F.App’x__, 2021 WL 1097101 (6th Cir. Mar. 23, 2021), Plaintiff-Appellant Leslie Nolan, a participant in the Detroit Edison Company (“DTE”) cash balance pension plan, appealed the district court’s dismissal of her putative class action seeking additional pension benefits and relief for DTE’s alleged violations of ERISA’s substantive disclosure requirements with respect to communications about transferring from DTE’s traditional defined benefit plan to its new cash balance…
In Atkins v. CB&I, L.L.C., No. 20-30004, __F.3d__, 2021 WL 1085807 (5th Cir. Mar. 22, 2021), a dispute involving a bonus payment to employees who worked until the completion of a construction project, the Fifth Circuit considered whether a Project Completion Incentive Plan (“the Plan”) is an ERISA plan. It held that it is not. Plaintiffs-Appellants worked as laborers on a construction project but quit before the project ended. Defendant did not pay them…
A recent decision, Shields v. United Of Omaha Life Insurance Company, No. 2:19-CV-00448-GZS, 2021 WL 982322 (D. Me. Mar. 16, 2021), involves an unfortunate situation of an employee who thought he had protected his family with life insurance, only for his spouse to be denied benefits because he had not submitted evidence of insurability (referred to as “EOI”). When Myron Shields started working for Duramax in 2008, he elected life insurance coverage under Duramax’s…
Hoffman v. Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension Plan, No. 20-55534, __F.App’x__, 2021 WL 1041693 (9th Cir. Mar. 18, 2021) involves a former stuntwoman’s claims for Disability Pension and Occupational Disability Pension benefits under the Defendant Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension Plan. The lawsuit has a “tortured history” and this is the case’s third time at the Ninth Circuit. The initial lawsuit challenged the Plan’s decision finding that there was no “occupational nexus” between her disability from…