In most situations, litigants must sue and be sued using their real names, even in sensitive matters.A recent ruling, however, catalogued circumstances under which a litigant may bring suit under a pseudonym.
Congress authorized claimants seeking employee benefits due under ERISA to bring a ³civil action² to recover benefits due or obtain appropriate equitable relief. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contemplate only one form of civil action; and civil actions are to be adjudicated utilizing the procedures specified by the civil procedure Rules and by the Federal Rules of Evidence. Yet federal courts have denied ERISA benefit claimants the right to take discovery normally permitted in civil actions, the right to trial by jury, and even, in most cases, the right to a trial in open court involving the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. Mark DeBofsky's article explores how the courts developed a quasi-administrative law regime governing ERISA benefit disputes despite Supreme Court rulings defining the contours of what a ³civil action² should consist of. The article further examines how ERISA cases are litigated and the scope of ERISA adjudications. Questions as to whether the current regime for litigating ERISA cases violates claimants¹ Constitutional due process rights are also raised, along with a discussion as to whether remands of ERISA cases violate the finality rule of Article III of the U.S.
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 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).