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October 2016 Archives

Can Prevailing Defendants in ERISA Cases Recover Attorneys' Fees?

In a ruling recently secured by DeBofsky Sherman & Casciari, P.C., a federal court definitively ruled that prevailing defendants in ERISA cases are rarely entitled to fees. In Geiger v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 2016 WL 5391206 (N.D. Ill. September 27, 2016) (opinion), where a court upheld Aetna's termination of disability benefits (currently on appeal), the court denied the insurer's application for fees. Although the court acknowledged that under Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U.S. 242, 244 (2010), either party is entitled to fees so long as the fee claimant has achieved "some degree of success on the merits," and also recognized "a 'modest presumption' in favor of awarding fees to the prevailing party, the court nonetheless refused to award fees to Aetna.

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