Recent Developments in ERISA Disability Benefits Litigation: Standard of Review and Discovery

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 94 minutes
Recorded Date: January 08, 2021
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  • Applicable Standard of Review
  • Statutes Prohibiting Discretionary Language
  • Choice of Law
  • Retractive Effect
  • Procedural Irregularities
  • Delegation of Discretion
  • Notice to the Participant
  • Violation of Full and Fair Review
  • Discovery by Circuits
  • Takeaways
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: January 8, 2021


This program will discuss the continually evolving state of the law surrounding the standard of review and its impact on discovery in ERISA disability benefits litigation. Courts are routinely called upon to access the applicable standard of review on an ERISA disability benefits claim and its impact on discovery. The law varies significantly by federal circuit and this seminar will provide an overview of the topic by Circuit.

This program was recorded on January 8th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Nicole G. True

Of Counsel
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, LLP

Nicole True is of counsel in Lewis Roca's Litigation Practice Group. Nicole's practice focuses on defending insurance coverage decisions, including class actions and matters involving contract interpretation, bad faith, and rescission, arising from claims made under medical, disability, accidental death and dismemberment, life, and property insurance policies. Her insurance coverage practice also extends to defending claims administrators and plan administrators in benefit denial and reimbursement lawsuits brought under the Employee and Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Recent and notable cases include her representation of HMOs in cases arising from the Hepatitis C outbreak among patients of several Las Vegas endoscopy clinics.

Prior to joining the firm, Nicole clerked for ?Honorable Thomas D. Waterman at the Iowa Supreme Court where her experience included ?conducting research and drafting memos and judicial opinions.?

While pursuing her law degree, Nicole worked as a legal assistant for an Iowa law firm defending the state against tobacco companies’ claims to recover ??$150 million in payments made to the state under a multistate settlement agreement. Her role ?involved analyzing, cataloguing, and electronically coding 100,000+ pages of documents and preparing ?memos, issue outlines, and exhibits to support the state’s position.

John T. Seybert

Senior Associate General Counsel
Dearborn Life Insurance Co.

John T. Seybert currently serves as Senior Associate General Counsel for Dearborn Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Health Care Service Corp. In his role, he manages litigation and provides support to insurance operations and customer relationships. Prior to then, he was a partner in an international litigation firm in their New York office. John is a graduate of Lehigh University and St. John’s University School of Law.

Amar Raval

Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval LLP

Amar is a talented attorney with a diverse range of experience. At Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, Amar focuses on insurance bad faith claims, ERISA claims, business litigation, and personal injury litigation. Amar has achieved notable results in each of these areas, including nine trial verdicts, 5 published decisions by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and numerous high-dollar settlements.

Amar is an active member of the State Bar of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section, where he has served as Treasurer and Vice Chair. On a national level, Amar is a diversity fellow of the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division. Amar is active in the South Asian Bar Association of Houston where he served as President, President-Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary. He is also a member of the Texas Bar College, Houston Trial Lawyers Association, and Houston Bar Association. He is a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation.

Amar is a graduate of Loyola Law School and is licensed to practice in both Texas and California. He received his Bachelor of Science from Houston Baptist University in 2000. Before joining Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP in 2017, Amar was a partner at Plummer | Raval. Before that, Amar began his career in Houston with Plummer & Associates in 2004.

Edna Kersting

Attorney at Law
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP

Edna Kersting is considered an authority in life, health, disability and ERISA law, an area in which she has concentrated throughout her legal career. Her experience extends to matters involving bad faith and punitive damages, fiduciary duty, class action claims, and a range of other insurance and coverage issues. Edna is a co-chair of the firm’s Life, Health, Disability & ERISA practice.

With a near exclusive focus on litigation, Edna defends life, health and disability insurers in lawsuits filed by insureds and other parties in state and federal courts throughout the United States. While many of these matters are brought under the federal ERISA statute, Edna increasingly has been retained to represent clients in the growing number of benefit claims brought under state law.

Edna constantly monitors new developments in life, health, disability and ERISA case law for the benefit of her clients. Her immersion in this area of practice enables Edna to put each case into context for the client, inform them of the legal implications as they head into litigation, and anticipate whether an amicable resolution, dispositive motion or trial will be the best course of action.

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