Flaaen v. McLane Company, Inc et al
ORDER Requesting Additional Briefing by Judge Benjamin H. Settle re Dkts. 33 and 34. 34 MOTION for Judgment on the administrative record and 33 MOTION for Judgment are RENOTED to 8/25/2017. (TG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
ANTHONY R. FLAAEN,
CASE NO. C15-5899 BHS
PRINCIPAL LIFE INSURANCE
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Anthony R. Flaaen’s (“Flaaen”)
trial brief on the administrative record (Dkt. 33) and Defendant Principal Life Insurance
Company’s (“Principal”) motion for judgment on the administrative record (Dkt. 34).
On May 31, 2017, the parties filed the instant motions in relation to a trial on the
administrative record. Dkts. 33, 34. On July 20, 2017, the Court held a hearing allowing
the parties an opportunity to provide oral argument in addition to the briefs. Dkt. 41.
During oral argument, Flaaen’s counsel touched on some issues of contract interpretation,
such as ambiguities should be resolved in his client’s favor. While this may be true in a
de novo review, none of the briefs explicitly touch on the issues of interpreting the policy
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in question. For example, one of the most significant disputes in this case is whether
Principal may rely upon the median wage for a particular occupation in determining
gainful employment. The policy defines gainful occupation as “Employment in which
the Member could reasonably be expected to earn an amount equal to or greater than the
Primary Monthly Benefit.” AR 38. This is a fairly vague definition. Under an abuse of
discretion standard, the Court would simply review Principal’s interpretation and
implementation of the language. However, under de novo review, the policy would seem
to be subject to the general rules of contract interpretation.
Furthermore, Flaaen contends that Principal “specifically laid out requirements for
a proper vocational review.” Dkt. 39 at 7. It is unclear if these were actually standards
used to evaluate relevant jobs and where the requirements originated from.
Therefore, the Court requests additional briefing on the issues identified herein.
Parties may file simultaneous supplemental briefing by August 18, 2017 and
supplemental replies by August 25, 2017. The Clerk shall renote the motions for
consideration on the Court’s August 25, 2017 calendar.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 9th day of August, 2017.
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE
United States District Judge
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