Soenksen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc.
MEMORANDUM Order Signed by the Honorable Milton I. Shadur on 6/25/2012:Mailed notice(srn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICALS NORTH
AMERICA, INC., etc., et al.,
12 C 2437
Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc. (“Takeda”) and
Aetna Life Insurance Company (“Aetna”) have filed their joint
Answer and Affirmative Defenses (“ADs”) to this action, in which
Mary Soenksen (“Soenksen”) contends she was improperly denied
long term disability benefits under the employee benefit plan
(“Plan”) maintained by Takeda and underwritten by Aetna.
memorandum order is occasioned by some problematic aspects of
that responsive pleading.
No effort will be made here to be
exhaustive--instead what follows identifies some illustrative
examples of a mindset at odds with the basic purposes of federal
For example, given the notice pleading principles that
govern federal pleading--principles that apply to plaintiffs and
defendants alike--it is always troubling to encounter unjustified
quibbles that some defense counsel seem to regard as appropriate.
Thus Answer ¶3 admits an allegation that the Plan “is
underwritten by Aetna,” yet Answer ¶11 denies a virtually
That sort of quibble also mars Answer ¶10,
which would appear to call for a simple “admit.”
In much the same vein, Answer ¶13 denies that Soenksen
“became disabled and was unable to perform her regular occupation
as a Senior Account Receivable Coordinator,” while Answer ¶14
admits that Soenksen applied for and received short term
disability benefits (no doubt because such a disability and
inability to do her job were found to exist).
And it is likewise
difficult to square the Takeda-Aetna admission in the first
sentence of Answer ¶17 with the second sentence’s denial of “the
remaining allegations contained in Paragraph 17--for there don’t
seem to be any “remaining allegations.”
Next, Answer ¶19 denies the allegations in Complaint ¶19,
the principal aspect of which refers to Soenksen’s doctor having
“indicate[d] Soenksen is ‘unable to perform any past relevant
work’” in the doctor’s January 28, 2009 submission attached as
Complaint Ex. D.
But in fact Ex. D, in addition to providing
particulars, stated this in its Paragraph 5(a) statement of
No ability to work. Severe limitation of functional
capacity; incapable of minimal activity.
Although Soenksen’s counsel can thus be faulted for putting “any
past relevant work” in quotation marks instead of the language
quoted here, the flat-out denial in Answer ¶19 tends to leave a
As indicated at the outset there is a good deal more, but
what has been said to this point should suffice to encourage
defense counsel to substitute a common sense approach for the
nitpicking that occupies too much of the current pleading.
can only be hoped that the manner in which this dispute is
litigated will reflect a more open effort to pose
issues in a more constructive way.
Milton I. Shadur
Senior United States District Judge
June 25, 2012