Disability insurance lawyers and claimants should be aware of a recently decided case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Garcia v. Colvin, 2013 U.S.App.LEXIS 25452 (7th Cir. December 20, 2013) was a recent opinion authored by Judge Richard Posner, who has gained a reputation for doing more than any jurist since the late Gerald Heaney, who sat on the Eighth Circuit, to improve the quality and fairness of the Social Security system. See, Heaney, Why the High Rate of Reversals in Social Security Disability Cases, 7 Hamline L.Rev. 1 (1984).
From time to time we comment on court opinions relevant to disability insurance and ERISA litigation -
A recent life insurance case involving the issue of incontestability caught our attention.
Despite the fact that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are intended to apply to all civil actions adjudicated in federal court, ERISA cases receive different treatment, especially cases that involve disability insurance benefits. In Charles v. UPS National Long Term Disability Plan, 2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 164218 (E.D.Pa. November 19, 2013), the court was called upon to decide whether to allow a deposition of the claim adjuster who denied benefits. The plaintiff sought to question the adjuster on a variety of topics that related to whether the claim was fairly adjudicated. The plan's administrator, Aetna, opposed the motion, contending that depositions are impermissible in ERISA actions.