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Our Lawyer is Experienced in All Circuit Courts

With the experience of litigating in all circuit courts comes a nuanced perspective about what issues work best where. For instance, the Ninth Circuit is not antagonistic to claims of disability based on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The Fourth Circuit has joined that position. The Sixth Circuit is very good if you are attacking the credibility of defense doctors. The Fifth and Tenth Circuits have very clear rules for allowable discovery in the event of a conflict of interest. The Seventh Circuit is best if you have "de novo" review. On the other hand, the Second Circuit allows insurance companies to introduce new rationales to deny benefits in litigation. The Eighth Circuit has rejected arguments that it is improper to demand objective evidence in cases of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The law is not the only issue that drives litigation. Insurance companies do pay more for claims based on locale. Generally, cases in urban areas and coastal jurisdictions tend to pay better values when negotiating a settlement than the same claim in Omaha, Kansas City or Indianapolis.

Proper Venues for Filing and ERISA Benefits Lawsuit

The differences in law from circuit to circuit could be important in your case. There are three primary proper venues for filing an ERISA benefits lawsuit, including:

  1. Where you live
  2. Where your plan is administered (usually your employer is the officially designated plan administrator and the employer's principal place of business is where the plan is administered)
  3. Where some other defendant has its principal place of business (in many circuits a proper defendant in an ERISA benefits claim is the insurance company which insures the claims)

Usually, the best venue to file an ERISA benefits claim is in the district court where you live, which may provide you with a subtle and unspoken "home court advantage" in any number of ways.

For example, since the law varies from circuit to circuit, you might better be off suing in California or Nevada, where your employer's plan is administered, rather than in Louisiana or Connecticut, where you live, because Ninth Circuit law (which is the law that controls in Nevada and California) may be more favorable to your case than Fifth Circuit law (which controls Louisiana) or Second Circuit law (which controls Connecticut). The circuit summaries on this website are not intended to be comprehensive summaries of the law. They are simply our observations about certain important features of ERISA law and practice in these circuits.

If you really want to understand where your case should be brought in the event of litigation, consult an experienced ERISA lawyer at our firm.