Tenth Circuit ERISA Cases
Disability Lawyer Serving Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah & Wyoming
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law and, as such, affects all states. Each district court and U.S. Court of Appeals, however, may interpret and enforce this law in varying ways. The Tenth Circuit handles cases slightly differently than the other circuit courts, and it is important for your ERISA lawyer to understand exactly how this may affect your case. At ERISA Law Center, we represent disability claimants and life insurance beneficiaries in ERISA proceedings that fall under the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit. This includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.
ERISA Reviews for Abuse of Discretion
When an ERISA claim is reviewed for abuse of discretion, an often critical and frequently dispositive issue is the weight to be accorded the plan administrator's or insurance company's conflict of interest. Discovery is often essential in litigation to explore that issue. The Tenth Circuit is one of the only circuits which has comprehensively addressed the nature and extent of discovery relevant to a plan administrator's conflict of interest. This makes the Tenth Circuit a favorable circuit to be in when a review is for abuse of discretion and conflict of interest discovery is necessary.
By the same token, the Tenth Circuit holds claimants to a rigorous standard as to what discovery is necessary. In a recent unpublished (but nonetheless important) case the Tenth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err by refusing to allow new evidence outside the administrative record regarding the insurance company's reviewing doctors' backgrounds and past conduct. The Tenth Circuit explained that the information which the claimant sought to offer at the district court level was widely available and therefore should have been presented to the administrative level.