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Nickleson v. Standard Insurance Co.

October 24, 2005

CAROLYN JOAN NICKLESON PLAINTIFF(S)
v.
STANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT(S)



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Webber Wright United States District Judge

ERISA SCHEDULING ORDER

A review of the initial pleadings in this case reveals that the instant action involves a claim for benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. §1001 et seq. [ERISA]. The Court's function in ERISA cases is to conduct either of two types of review. If the plan language does not give the insurer the discretion to determine eligibility for plan benefits or to construe the terms of the plan, the Court should conduct a de novo review of the administrative record. Farley v. Benefit Trust Life Ins. Co., 979 F.2d 653, 660 (8th Cir. 1992) (citing Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101, 115 (1989)). If, however, the plan gives the administrator or fiduciary discretionary authority to determine eligibility for benefits or to construe the terms of the plan, the abuse of discretion standard is applied by the Court. Bruch at 115.

In either event, the Court's review is limited to a review of the record made before the administrator of the plan. Thus, a trial is not necessary, and the parties need only stipulate to what the administrative record is and file briefs which advocate the appropriate standard of review to be employed. Further, all factual assertions contained in the briefs shall make specific reference to the stipulated record.

Accordingly, this case will proceed on the following schedule:

(a) The stipulated record shall be filed within sixty (60) days of the filing date of this Order;

(b) Plaintiff's brief shall be filed within fourteen (14) days thereafter;

(c) Defendant's brief shall be filed within fourteen (14) days thereafter.

No reply briefs will be allowed unless leave of the Court has been granted. The Court will conduct its review upon receipt of the material outlined herein.

IT IS SO ORDERED

20051024

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