Frankel & Newfield has the first decision concerning the scope of discovery in ERISA long term disability litigations, following Met Life v. Glenn: Cindy Hogan-Cross v. Met Life, where the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed that determining the nature and extent of MetLife’s structural conflict of interest warranted significant discovery, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Met Life v. Glenn.
Hogan-Cross, a former IBM employee, brought her action against defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Company under ERISA to recover long term disability benefits which were wrongfully denied. Plaintiff made a motion to compel discovery concerning issues that would reveal the nature and extent of Met Life’s conflict of interest, a conflict inherent in the fact that Met Life both determined Plaintiffs eligibility for benefits and had a financial interest in doing so.
The Court concluded that discovery into Met Life’s decision-maker’s performance evaluations, compensation, and advancement prospects depended directly or indirectly upon the denial of benefits would be highly pertinent. Most significantly, the Court permitted discovery regarding the nature and extent of the relationship between the insurer and its hired doctors, who are alleged to be “independent” consultants. The Court relied upon other decisions granting discovery which Frankel & Newfield secured, including Trussel v. CIGNA.