Flynn v. Ascension Health Long Term Disability Plan et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion for Attorneys Fees and Costs, [Doc. No. 72 ], is Denied. Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 01/22/2016. (CLK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ASCENSION HEALTH LONG
TERM DISABILITY PLAN, et al.,
No. 4:13CV2449 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees and
Costs, [Doc. No. 72]. Defendants oppose the motion. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion is denied.
On July 20, 2015, the Court entered its Order denying the cross motions for
summary judgment. The Court remanded the matter to Sedgwick to reopen the
administrative record to “either determine the status of Plaintiff’s prednisone use as
of December 5, 2012, and Dr. Zimmerman’s opinions thereon, or to request a
revised report from Dr. Altman which does not rely on his previous assumption
that Plaintiff was off of prednisone per Dr. Zimmerman’s instructions as of
December 5, 2012.”
Under ERISA, “the court in its discretion may allow a reasonable attorney's
fee and costs of action to either party.” 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). In Hardt v.
Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., 560 U.S. 242 (2010), the Supreme Court
held that eligibility for an award under § 132(g)(1) does not require that the feeseeker be a prevailing party, but only that the “claimant ... show ‘some degree of
success on the merits.’ ”Id. at 255 (quoting Ruckelshaus v. Sierra Club, 463 U.S.
680, 694 (1983)). Although a “trivial success” or a “purely procedural victor[y]”
does not satisfy this standard, it is sufficient if “the court can fairly call the
outcome of the litigation some success on the merits without conducting a ‘lengthy
inquir[y] into the question whether a particular party's success was substantial or
occurred on a central issue.’ ” Id. at 255 (alterations in original) (quoting
Ruckelshaus, 463 U.S. at 688 n.9) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff argues that the Court’s remand decision implied that it was more
than a procedural victory; specifically, that Defendants’ review of Plaintiff’s claim
was deficient. Quite the contrary, the Court did not imply the review was
deficient; rather the Court specifically limited the remand to consideration of the
facts which were not considered. Procedurally, the Court will not consider an
appeal where the record is incomplete. It is abundantly clear the remand was,
therefore, for the sole purpose of having all the relevant facts before the
Administrators and, if necessary, the Court.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees and
Costs, [Doc. No. 72], is Denied.
Dated this 22nd day of January, 2016.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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