Entries by JJ Conway

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The Trend of ERISA Class Actions Against Universities Picks Up Strength as Cornell Workers Class Is Certified

On January 22nd, 2019, a federal district judge certified a class of at least 28,000 participants and beneficiaries of the Cornell University Retirement Plan, consisting of the Employees of the Endowed Colleges at Ithaca Plan and the Cornell University Tax Deferred Annuity Plan, in Cunningham et al. v. Cornell University et al., No. 1:16-cv-06525 (S.D.N.Y., […]

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The United States Secretary of Labor Files Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiffs’ Standing in Mitchell v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota

On January 22, 2019, the United States Secretary of Labor filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiff-appellants/ cross-appellees Ivan and Melissa Mitchell in the matter of Mitchell, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, et al. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota filed a cross-appeal in the matter […]

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Federal Court Details Reliance Standard’s Long History Of Abuse In The Handling Of ERISA Long Term Disability Claims

A federal district judge in Mississippi undertook the painstaking steps of collecting and documenting Reliance Standard’s long history of abusive claims practices in disability claims.   The expansive decision of Nichols v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., No. 3:17-CV-42-CWR-FKB, 2018 WL 3213618 (S.D. Miss., June 29, 2018), contains hundreds of citations of cases where reviewing courts […]

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Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review Publishes Article by J.J. Conway, Esq.

Western Michigan University-Cooley Law Review has published an article authored by J.J. Conway, Esq. and Trever M. Sims analyzing the Wilkins v. Baptist Healthcare Systems decision and its impact on ERISA benefits dispute resolution within the Sixth Circuit. The article, published in WMU-Cooley Law Review’s Summer 2018 issue, serves in part as a 20-year retrospective […]

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Sixth Circuit Kills ERISA LTD Claim for Failing to File a Benefits Application

The typical scenario in a benefits claim works something like this:  An employee becomes ill or injured.  An employee takes a medical leave of absence.  If the employer has sponsored a disability program, a claim for benefits is filed.  If there is a short-term disability plan, that benefit program may or may not be ERISA-qualified.  […]

Idaho Federal Court Rules That Medical Provider’s Appeal On Patient’s Behalf Can Serve To Exhaust Administrative Remedies Under ERISA

The United States District Court for the District of Idaho has ruled that a medical provider, acting pursuant to a pretreatment authorization and assignment of rights, may appeal an adverse benefit determination on the patient’s behalf for purposes of exhaustion under ERISA.   In Abdilnour v. Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service Inc., Case No. 17-00412 […]

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The New Disability Regulations Are Coming!

The U.S. Department of Labor has decided to implement ERISA disability benefits claims regulations. The regulations were proposed at the end of 2016, with a scheduled January 1, 2018 effective date.  The regulations were designed to ensure various due process protections of ERISA disability claimants under 29 U.S.C. § 1133 and 29 C.F.R. § 2560.503-1, […]

ERISA Long-Term Disability Claims: Court Allows Standard Of Review Challenge For Improper Discretionary Delegation

The standard of review in ERISA cases can have a considerable impact on the outcome of a long-term disability claim. As the Supreme Court observed in Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101, 115 (1989), “the validity of a claim to benefits under an ERISA plan is likely to turn on the interpretation of terms in […]