What Does a Deferential Standard of Review Mean in ERISA Cases? The U.S. Supreme Court Gives Some Clarification

The federal courts have for a long time struggled with how to apply the deferential standard of review to actions taken by ERISA plan administrators in light of the United States Supreme Court holding in Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101 (1989).  Firestone held that an ERISA plan administrator with discretionary …

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance: Under What Circumstances Can a Court Award Attorneys’ Fees in ERISA Actions?

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in the important ERISA disability case of Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance (09-448).  In that case, Bridget Hardt filed suit, arguing that Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co. wrongly denied her claim for long-term disability benefits.  The district court found that Reliance’s original decision denying benefits disregarded …

Read moreU.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance: Under What Circumstances Can a Court Award Attorneys’ Fees in ERISA Actions?

Reasonable Reliance on Erroneous SPD Needed to Establish Entitlement to Additional ERISA Benefits

What happens when an ERISA plan provides for a certain level of benefits and the required summary plan description (“SPD”) given to plan participants provides for greater benefits?  The District Court for the Central District of California answered that question recently with its holding in Skinner v. Northrop Grumman Retirement Plan B, 2010 U.S. Dist. …

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California Court Finds Coverage for Patent Infringement Claims Under CGL Policies

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held, for the first time under California law, that patent infringement can be covered as a “misappropriation of advertising ideas” under the advertising injury coverage of a general liability policy, where the patent is on a method of web based advertising. In Hyundai …

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Right to Jury Trial Trumps Binding Arbitration When Insurer Unreasonably Delays Paying Independent Defense Counsel

In an article appearing in the April 12, 2010 editions of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals, I discuss the impact of the California Fourth Appellate District’s Intergulf Development, LLC. v. Superior Court (Interstate Fire & Casualty Company). Here it is: In an important vindication of a California policyholder’s right to a jury …

Read moreRight to Jury Trial Trumps Binding Arbitration When Insurer Unreasonably Delays Paying Independent Defense Counsel

California Appellate Court Allows State Law Claims Against Private Medicare Plans

In a case of first impression, the Fourth District Court of Appeal opened the door to new lawsuits against private Medicare plans that had previously been held to be preempted by the federal Medicare Act. In Cotton v. Starcare Medical Group Inc., __ Cal.Rptr.3d __, 2010 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.), the court found patients who are …

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U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down State Limitations Through Use of Federal Class Actions

In a significant blow to business but a boon for consumers, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that certain class actions barred or limited by state laws may proceed in federal courts. In Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Insurance Company, __ U.S. __ (March 31, 2010) a 5-4 majority, led by Justice Antonin Scalia, …

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