Legras v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et. al.
In 2011, Kevin Zietz was hired to assist a Federal Express Company employee who had a long term disability claim denied by Aetna, the claims paying administrator for the Federal Express Long Term Disability Plan. The Plan provides employees with 180 days to submit a written appeal challenging the denial of benefits. The 180-day period ended in this case on a Saturday. The employee submitted his appeal to Aetna by mail on Monday, the next business day. This was 182 days after Aetna denied the employee’s claim. Aetna denied the employee’s appeal as untimely. Kevin Zietz filed a legal action in federal district court pursuant to 29 U.S.C. Section 1132, the civil enforcement provision of ERISA. Aetna filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), and argued that the employee failed to exhaust his administrative remedies because he mailed his appeal after the 180-day period. Kevin Zietz argued at the hearing on Aetna’s motion that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (Rule 6) applies to ERISA which would extend a deadline to the next business day when it falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. The federal district court judge ruled that the employee’s appeal was untimely and dismissed the case.
Kevin Zietz sought assistance from the law firm Kantor and Kantor to appeal the federal district court’s decision to dismiss the employee’s case. The Kantor law firm did a very skillful job and obtained a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that was consistent with Kevin Zietz’s argument to the trial court. The 9th Circuit ruled that ERISA common law required that Aetna accept the employee’s appeal as timely because he mailed it on the first weekday following the weekend. Federal Courts in the 9th Circuit had never before this case agreed to apply Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6 to ERISA cases, thus giving employees additional days to submit an appeal when the 180 day deadline fell on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
Meguerditchian v. Aetna Life Insur. Co., et. al.
This case presents a dispute concerning a short-term disability benefit plan offered my client’s employer, Federal Express Corporation (“FedEx”). When my client was injured at work, Aetna Life Insurance-the claims-paying administrator of the policy-denied Meguerditchian’s claim as untimely. As a result my client brought this action seeking recovery of benefits under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) § 502(a)(1)(B). For the reasons discussed in the attached decision, the Court reversed the administrator’s denial of STD benefits claim as untimely and remanded the case to the claims-paying administrator for a decision on the merits.