Court tackles ‘church plan,’ ‘self-reporting’ case

Chronister v. Baptist Health, 2006 U.S.App.LEXIS 7178 (8th Cir. 3/23/2006). Chronister, a nurse who worked for Baptist Health, a non-profit organization that operates hospitals in Arkansas, was injured in a car accident in 1995 and developed fibromyalgia and other conditions that eventually led her to file for disability benefits in 1997. Unum, the insurer, initially […]

Insurers not living up to ERISA duties

In a very significant ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals extended several recent precedents to reject an insurer’s reviewing doctor’s findings and uphold a judgment reinstating payment of disability benefits. Evans v. Unum Provident Corp., 2006 U.S.App.LEXIS 1359 (Jan. 20, 2006). The plaintiff, a nursing-home administrator, became disabled due to a seizure disorder […]

Documents ruling cuts access to courts

A federal judge in Georgia recently answered the question of whether the penalties that are available under § 502(c)(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c), up to $110 per day for failure to provide plan participants and beneficiaries with plan documents on request, applies to documents sought as part of […]

Court judgment stays on the books

A federal court in Virginia recently confronted a situation that arises with some degree of regularity: a judgment is entered by a court, the loser files a notice of appeal and then offers to settle the case, but imposes as a condition of the settlement that the judgment be vacated. Earlier this year, a district […]

Another court questions impartiality of doctor

A federal judge recently looked beyond the claim record and into a reviewer’s wallet in concluding that an insurer improperly terminated disability benefits. Plaintiff Igor Gunn, a financial adviser, sought disability benefits due to symptoms of multiple sclerosis, fainting spells and anxiety. After initially approving the claim, Reliance Standard terminated benefit payments after 24 months, […]